We all know, or at least we've heard so many times, that happiness is in the process of living, not some kind of end goals. Goals may change and results may disappoint. If we enjoyed the process of getting there, then the result probably doesn’t matter as much. If we didn’t enjoy the process, then there’s nothing left for us but regret. There's nothing worse then setting a long-term goal, spend years trying to achieve it and once achieved - realise that our priorities have changed, or the goal wasn't right, or the result is disappointing.
So, why do we find it really challenging to embrace this simple truth and live by it (enjoy the process of getting to your end goals!)?
I see three main factors that we need to embrace and apply in life so that we enjoy the process regardless of what's in the future for us:
HAPPY FACTOR 1
Staying happy in the present moment: 5 principles that everyone should know by now
Focus on the present. Not on the past, it can’t be changed. Not on the future, because it hasn’t arrived yet. Now is the time to live and build the foundation for your future.
Be mindful - yes, it’s about staying aware of what you think, feel and do every minute. But also staying aware of other people and life around you.
Appreciate the little things in your life. A short walk in the garden. A coffee in the morning. A chat with a neighbour. Playing ball with your kids in the backyard.
Relax more often. Pick up whatever suits you - yoga, pilates, boxing, gardening, listening to music, reading. The idea is to relieve your mind from everyday stress and overthinking.
Be grateful. Just because. Gratitude is a powerful tool which can transform your attitude to life. There’re so many things to be grateful for. The more you practice mindfulness and appreciation of little things, the more things you can be grateful for.
HAPPY FACTOR 2
Satisfying our basic needs
Of course, it’s all good to be mindful, live in the moment and appreciate little things. But we also need to be satisfying our needs, such as security, creativity, money, social interactions, perhaps recognition, etc.
However, often these things don’t help much and we’re still unhappy. Why? The degree of unhappiness, I guess, depends on the number and intensity of the limiting beliefs and insecurities we have. The funny, or not so funny, thing is that if we feel insecure, no amount of fame and money can fix that. Just look at some celebrities.
HAPPY FACTOR 3
Working on our mindset and psychology
So, practicing mindfulness and gratitude is invaluable and useful. Fulfilling our basic needs is necessary. Yet, if we don’t address our own limiting beliefs and attitudes, things won’t be changing too much. We’ll feel stuck despite staying mindful. I believe many people could relate to that, saying - we do yoga, this and that, but we’re still unhappy.
If we look at other people and life (and ourselves) through the filter of low self-worth or anger, we'll be unhappy. That’s because we not only look through those filters, we actually think that way, feel that way and act based on that filter. So what do we see based on our actions? We see a negative result which comes back and proves that we were right and life sucks.
For example, I used to be an extremely negative person years ago. As long as I looked at life and people through that negativity, I only saw negativity around. I treated people with negativity. I participated in life events with negativity. I treated myself with negativity. Guess what? Life and people were responding back with negativity. That only reinforced my negativity. So I was very much stuck. The only thing that helped me was that one day I decided to change my attitude. The attitude as we all know starts in our head. So, that’s the place I started. Everything else in life followed.
I’m sure we all have various mental filters - some of us more than others - and it’s up to us if we want to change them. If we become really serious about changing our mindset (and no, it doesn’t happen overnight), life will slowly start changing for the better. One day we wake up and wonder how we could possibly be the way we used to be, it just seems incomprehensible.