What about those who experience happiness but do not have everything they want? Can you be happy if you do not have what you want? Perhaps some people are deluding themselves, or perhaps they are fortunate enough to understand what they need to be happy. Perhaps that is the first step to happiness. In the previous article, I told you that being able to pinpoint what is at the heart of your fears lays the groundwork for using your fears to achieve success. Is it the same for happiness? By having enough awareness of yourself, can you understand what you need to be happy and not just what you want?
What do you need to be happy? This is a very individual thing. It could include financial success, material possessions, identifiable achievements or being surrounded by people of your own choosingpeople you like and who like you back. But it is not these things; they are just a part of it. What makes you happy is often understanding what matters to you and being able to understand that happiness is not a moment, not an achievement, not a pleasure or even the absence of unhappiness. Happiness is not a pursuit. It is a realization.
Steps to Recognizing Happiness
Here are two actions you can begin today to begin the process of recognizing happiness when you see it:
1) Self-awareness. Watch out! As a first step, this is a doozey. Self-awareness is not something you acquire in an instant; it is a process of understanding through self-honesty and the lack of self-deception. And that can take awhile to achieve. The good thing to note is that as you begin the process, you have already taken steps in the direction you want to go. A simple way to begin the process is to set aside 15 minutes a day to think about what you liked and what you did not like in a given day or moment. Pay attention to what made you feel relaxed or gave you a feeling of satisfaction. As you begin to reflect, you gain more awareness of yourself and what contributes to your happiness.
2) Appreciation of others. How often have you stopped and gained awareness of what others contribute to your life? Not everyone offers the same benefits, but you can gain something from every person you encounter. To do this, you want to be present in the moment when you are interacting with others. For even one minute during or following an encounter, stop and ask yourself what you appreciate about this moment and this encounter. As you do this, you are creating the building blocks of appreciating others, appreciating the moment and learning more about yourself.