Friday, February 3, 2012

If Happiness is a State of Mind, Why Change It?

They aren't kidding when they say time will fly when you aren't paying attention. I've heard that saying more times then I can count--and certainly believe it--but I never truly understood it until recently.

A little over six months ago I arrived to Colorado from California to start an exciting new career, and build upon the amazing experiences I'd already accumulated. Some days, it feels like no time has passed at all; on others, it seems like just yesterday that I was pulling up with a U-Haul to my new apartment. In between that spectrum, there are a range of memories and moments I wouldn't trade for anything.

The question is, though, if you've “arrived” to where you've worked your a%* off to be, what's next? How do you sustain the happiness and success you've found? Is it even possible? Here is my answer to that: 

1. Just Because You've “Arrived”, You Still Haven't Reached the End of the Road

If you're like me and you've reached that point (or perhaps are on your way) of perfect balance to being professionally and personally happy, it can be a little daunting. Again, if you're like me, you may be find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop. Things can't always be going this well can they? There's got to be something that will go wrong and throw that balance off. Right?

Okay, stop right there. That's enough of questioning those moments of happiness. And yes, I'm referring to my own internal skeptic as well.

Ever since taking on my job, making new friends and acquaintances, and getting more travel miles under my feet, there have been as many high points as low. Feeling lonely while living alone in a new place – low point. Experiencing some of the best the South had to offer – high point. And the best part about all of that is that I've yet to stop learning. The same could be said of your own experiences. Sure, maybe you didn't get that “perfect” job as soon as you'd hoped. Maybe you still haven't. Perhaps you're struggling to sort things out with your personal life. Whatever the case may be, there is something to be gleaned from every experience.

Instead of wondering what bad, unplanned things might happen, it's a much more productive use of your time to focus on what you've already accomplished and how much more there is to come. You've gotten this far down the road, why look back with regret or too far ahead with apprehension? Enjoy the heck out of where you are now. Otherwise, you may miss it before it's even passed.

2. Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

This is especially true when it comes to sustaining the balance in your personal life. Or, if your job is anything like mine, your coworkers may be some of your closest friends. By having that support and motivation from people that you can really depend on, it's going to make the success taste that much sweeter—and sustain it that much longer. After all, when was anything worthwhile without others to share it with? I say that with the assumption that you're the sharing kind, of course :)

3. Never Forget To Be Yourself

Yep...still the same!
I'm fully aware this tip sounds like a cliché (should I add that as a disclaimer? Cynics, be warned!) but I believe in it with every ounce of who I am. To me, happiness is about doing what you love and never forgetting how you got there. If you lose sight of yourself along the way, you also lose the genuine quality of your happiness—and hollow satisfaction is fleeting anyhow. By keeping in mind the first two tips I mentioned, it will also give you the perspective you need to grow and change without losing the qualities that made you stand out in the first place. It's already a foregone conclusion that your experiences in this world are going to change you—just make sure you're changing the world right back!

4. Take Time to Smell the Flowers...No Really, Smell the D$*^ Flowers!

Let's face it: you can only be all work and no play for so long, until it gets the better of you. Why get to that point in the first place? You miss out on SO much, including the simple moments of contentment, if you let yourself get caught up in every detail. Take a break, step back from the things that stress you out, and look around you. There are a million other things to appreciate and you might forget to do so once in awhile. It's not like you have to be aware of this every day at every hour either. But when those moments do sneak up you, hold on to them for as long as you can; and then, when you're ready, let them go with the knowledge that they'll be back to visit again soon.

5. Stop Trying to Have All the Answers

This might just be asking for irony to slap me upside the head. Stop asking for answers? So who am I to be saying that when I'm writing a post full of tips I'm demanding telling advising you follow? Well, the thing is I'm not saying these are actually the answers. You may hold true to beliefs completely different than my own (and that is awesome too!). The real point I'm trying to make is that when there is so much to learn about the world, that there won't always be a black and white answer. A lot of the time you'll even have to ask for help. And even more often then that, there won't be an answer at all. So deal with it; soak it up and remember that just because you don't know everything, can't plan for everything or can't be everything, it's enough that you appreciate yourself for what you've already done and who you are. The rest is a little like gambling—you win some, you lose some, but what a hell of a ride it was along the way.

So, is there any real “key” to happiness? I have no idea. All I know is that if you really want to open that door, you won't let a missing, lost or undiscovered key stop you. Instead, you'll break the damn thing down.