I’ve been thinking about stuff. I, like you, have many times thought stuff would make me happy – and that a lack of stuff was what was making me unhappy. I don’t mean just physical things like a house or clothing, but also stuff like people, a great husband, a happy child and even stuff like accomplishments, like winning prizes or getting my TV show aired.
I was very wrong. Stuff does not make us happy. That was a superficial take, so I am going deeper.
Here’s my new thought:
“Happy” is a moment-to-moment phenomenon based on personal integrity (the alignment of my heart, mind and body: my dreams, my plans and my actions). If I am living true to my highest ideals, I am happy in the moment. That’s why I get such pleasure from saying no to sugar, or getting my butt up to run, or keeping my mouth shut until my husband is done speaking or upholding a consequence with my children. Oooh, it feels so good to be better than my impulses and momentary bratty desires. It’s a constant battle, but I love every win.
I noticed that after accomplishing one of my long-desired dreams (just after my MTV special aired) I was UNHAPPY! Why? A mixture of fear and brattiness and ego: What if the response wasn’t what I hoped? Why was my husband still not acting like I wanted? Why did I still feel like the same person? LOL. See how my big “stuff” accomplishment did NOTHING for me, while I still am susceptible to the shenanigans of my own mind? My thinking and being were not in alignment with my ideals, so despite my accomplishment, I wasn’t happy. It took me several days to straighten myself out and go back to BEING the person I wanted to be. From there I felt proud again and resumed taking bold actions, which of course bolstered my mood. Remember that “happy” is a moment-to-moment phenomenon based on my integrity to my highest ideals, NOT my accomplishments.
That being said, I don’t want to throw desire for stuff and accomplishments out the window, because it’s also kind of fun. It seems silly and counterproductive to deny desire. In the end, I think the value of the accomplishments or attainments is just:
1) You get to impact things. I like the feeling of having impacted something. Several hundred thousand people watched my show and many, many were moved and helped by it. That feels good because it’s part of my mission.
2) It’s fun. Though the high is fleeting, it’s fun to be challenged and to have stuff. It is fun to play with new stuff like a house, car, boyfriend, notoriety. And “fun” is an important area of life. It was fun to feel famous for a few minutes.
3) It’s a good measure. Often results are a good measure of your integrity and a lack of results can provide an excellent bit of motivation to get off the couch. I like the gauge of results to keep me motivated, like when I know my weight, I know what to do about it. If it’s higher than I want, it motivates me to act.
Even though stuff or lack of stuff can be a great motivator to action, you won’t be ultimately satisfied if you don’t shift your attitude, too. I can lose weight grumbling all the way or I can remember my dream, celebrate it, make a plan and then set up accountability with someone fun. Which sounds better?
At Handel, we have a simple, yet deep method for helping you develop Personal Integrity®, the real key to happiness. Please come for an overview of the three-step process with a highlight on promise-making on May 17th.
P.S.- Join us for How to Keep Your Promises, our one-hour teleseminar on promise-making and keeping! (Thurs, May 17 from 12-1pm ET. And if you can’t make it live, pre-register and we will send you a link to the recording!)
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Laurie Gerber is President of Handel Group® Life Coaching, an international coaching company, which specializes in teaching individuals to take focused and powerful action in every area of their lives. You can connect with Laurie on Facebook at HG Life Coaching.