The Secret to Happiness

Happiness – is it an illusive dream? I know people (and I’m sure you do too) who have made it a lifetime theme to be unhappy. There are people who focus an extraordinary amount of their time on the negative, people who seem to actually believe they are best to thrive on the negative. I believe the more you focus on something, the more prevalent it becomes in your life. Why would someone want to perpetuate negativity in his or her life? Perhaps because that is what the culture was like in the home they grew up in. Negativity for some is how they draw attention to themselves and gather support – no crisis, no support – a learned sense of how to interact in this world.

So then, is negativity a choice? Indeed it is. If negativity is a choice, then happiness vs. unhappiness must be too.

I feel happiness is really the ultimate goal in life. I have a fairly simple philosophy towards happiness. Success can be measured by happiness alone, because if you are not happy – you are not successful. I often ask people in conversation, ‘On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you?’ Children up to around age 12 score pretty high on this scale, and then it starts to diminish. We should teach happiness in school, teach kids how to sustain happiness.

So what does make people happy? A feeling of productivity, a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment, love and a sense of belonging seem to be pretty basic ingredients for happiness.

We have so many cultural pressures on us today to choose what we want to do with our lives. We often choose before we even know what makes us happy. What this translates to is a person who likes tactile work doing intellectual work and vice versa, or people in service who prefer more of an isolated life like that of a librarian or researcher, for example.

I personally have always found tremendous joy in working on my solo material. My quest to be able to do this for a living has led me down the wrong path many times. At times I have been a full time promoter leaving little time for the art itself. So I had to decide, do I want to spend my time being an artist or do I want to first make a living as an artist? The most important thing to me is the art itself. I have chosen to be an artist rather than a full time promoter of my art. Yes, I do promote my art, but the majority of my time is spent being an artist. It is in this space that I become the best person I can be. It is in my art that I achieve the highest score on my happiness scale. And maybe, if I continue to perfect my craft, it will start to pay the bills too, but my happiness is not dependent on that. Fortunately, I have lots of other creative endeavors that take care of that nicely without taking away from my personal artistic enjoyment. The further I position myself away from the actual art, the less of an artist I am and my score lowers on my happiness scale as a result.

I believe if my art touches people, the promotion will take care of itself for the most part.

I heard a statistic the other day that 80% of 20 somethings when asked what they want to do with their lives say they want to be famous. There is a lot of hype about social networking and creating the biggest following you can achieve. Reality TV hasn't helped this younger generation to find their passion either. There are a few success stories out there about musicians that have hundreds of thousands of fans/followers and have an ongoing quest to achieve and sustain this high number – at the expense of their art. One even indicated she spent only 5% of her time on her art – the rest was spent promoting her art, and she didn’t seem too happy about that. I wonder how that will translate to what she creates in the future. Will she have any creative energy left? Will there be artistic growth?

So what exactly is it they want? Fame or happiness? My guess is fame.

I think if you asked anyone who is an expert at something and famous for it what the biggest drag about their life is, they would say the fame part. And if you asked someone who is famous just for the sake of being famous how happy they are – my bet is they wouldn’t score too high on the happiness scale because they are missing the productivity, a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment and the sense of belonging part. The sense of accomplishment may be there if their goal was to be famous. They may have adoration, but that is not the same as love. Love happens when you love yourself for being who you are in your quietest moments of reflection. Love is in you. It is not external.

Only you can decide what makes you happy. Nobody and nothing can make you happy or unhappy, only your thoughts about that person or situation can. Pay attention to this in your daily life and it will lead you down the path to your life’s purpose, and what you find might surprise you when you get there.

Ask yourself today - On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you? What would it take to improve your score? This really should be your most important project during your time here on Planet Earth and I wish you clarity on your journey of discovery.

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