By Rhonda Campbell
Happiness often seems elusive, particularly because of personal success definitions. At best, it lingers for several hours or days and then flees. Christopher Gardner, genesis for The Pursuit of Happiness, may have described it best when he said that we never hold or own happiness. We’re always in pursuit of it.
Part of the reason why happiness is not constant has to do with how we define success. Your success definitions may involve people comparisons. If that struck a nerve, pay attention.
Comparisons sabotage happiness
People comparisons occur when you set a bar for how happy you will allow yourself to be based upon how your achievements, connections, finances and relationships rank against one or more other people’s. According to Psychology Today, comparing yourself to others is a shortcut to unhappiness.
Jack Canfield says that, “Comparison is the fast track to unhappiness.” If you’re in the habit of trying to align your life to success definitions that demand that you compare yourself (i.e. your looks, your age, your finances, your home) to anyone else, expect happiness to be fleeting.
One way to tell if your success definitions involve comparing yourself to others is to be aware of how you feel right now. If you feel peace and contentment only to spiral into feelings of frustration, worry and maybe even anxiety almost immediately after you learn of, see or hear from someone who has more money than you, turns heads, receives several awards, gets promoted or moves into a house that’s larger than yours, there’s a good chance that you align your happiness with how you compare to others.
Comparing yourself to others can encourage you to keep striving to have or to achieve more, but, it won’t allow you to experience constant happiness. Why? People have, want and achieve different things and at different levels. You can see that happening all around you. These differences alone would keep happiness away if you only allow yourself to experience happiness if you think that you are outperforming someone else.
Success Definitions and getting to lasting happiness
Another success definition that could keep happiness at bay is defining success as an instant when you achieve someone else’s goals. An example of this is when you earn a doctorate degree to please or appease your father or mother. This definition keeps happiness at bay because your happiness is linked to your destiny. Your inner guide knows what your destiny is, generally not your parent, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, supervisor or spouse.
Defining success as times when you believe that other people like you also keeps happiness at an arm’s reach, at best. To experience lasting happiness, allow yourself to feel happy when you achieve reasonable goals. Other ways to experience lasting happiness is to, as simple as it sounds, permit yourself to experience happiness regardless of what is happening, communicate with people who support you (not manipulate you) and who value you and love being with you.
Setting healthy boundaries, being aware of your blessings, continuing to learn and awaken and investing in private quiet time are other ways to experience lasting happiness. The next time that you feel happy, pay attention (practice awareness) and see if you push up thoughts, fears, etc. to sabotage your happiness. Take responsibility for what you do with your mind, similar to how you take responsibility for what you do with your body.
Should you notice that you use your mind to sabotage your own happiness, you may want to consider seeking professional assistance or taking up the confidence to pump the brakes when you catch yourself using your mind to snatch happiness from yourself. You might try giving yourself 15 minutes a day to think about things that upset you, and then stop pondering and pouring over those things after the 15 minutes are over. After awhile, you might decide to stop using your mind to sabotage your own happiness for even a second.