“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” —Margaret Lee Runbeck
Happy people know that happiness is a choice. They know it is not a reaction to present circumstances. Instead, happiness is an available decision despite them. They have removed the thinking that waits for everything to be perfect before joy in life is experienced.
On the other hand, unhappy people are always searching for happiness. They believe happiness is reliant upon the acquisition of something new or something different. They are constantly chasing, but never attaining. Often times, they search for it in all the wrong places.
Consider this list of 9 Places Unhappy People Look for Happiness.
1. In their next purchase. For too many, it has been ingrained into their thinking the proper way to attain happiness is to find it in their next purchase. As a result, joy is sought in bigger houses, nicer cars, cooler technology, or more fashionable clothing. Most possessions never satisfy. In fact, the joy they bring is entirely fleeting. And those who search for happiness in them are left to chase the next purchase… and the next… and the next.
2. In their next paycheck. Perhaps, Zig Ziglar said it best, “Money won’t make you happy, but everybody wants to find out for themselves.” I know happy people who own less than me and I know unhappy people who own far more. Money is not the secret to happiness. It never has been and never will be. And the sooner we realize this truth, the sooner we can discover the freedom that accompanies no longer desiring riches.
3. In their next relationship. We were designed for relationship and there is great joy to be found in them. But relationship, by its very nature, requires humility and selflessness. And believing there is another person out there that can bring complete happiness into your life is to embark on a journey with no destination… and often with disastrous outcomes. Our relationships become far stronger and more fulfilling when we stop searching for someone to meet our needs and start using relationships to meet someone else’s needs instead.
4. In their next physical enhancement. Healthy bodies and healthy diets are important. I would never speak against their benefit. They allow us to maximize our days and effectiveness. But those who seek happiness in tighter butts, slimmer waists, and larger biceps are looking for fulfillment in physical bodies that were never designed to bring such outcomes. Happy people understand the importance of physical discipline. But they do not base their happiness on their physical appearance.
5. In their next competition. I have come to understand the mindset of competition in our world is based on a faulty premise. It assumes there is a finite sized pie—that one person’s success in life equals one less opportunity in mine. But this thinking is incorrect. The pie keeps growing. And those who seek happiness by ruthlessly beating out another compete only against themselves. In reality, the quickest way to find happiness in your life is to help someone else find it in theirs.
6. In their next job. It is important to pursue work you love in an occupation that contributes good to society and the world around you. This type of work brings fulfillment and promise to our lives. Unfortunately, I fear too many people nowadays are seeking the “perfect” job with high pay, few hours, and no stress. But the perfect job doesn’t exist. Work always requires blood, sweat, and tears—that is what makes it work. Again, those who are continually experiencing disdain in their present career because they think the next one will be perfect, are chasing happiness in the wrong places. While there may be a time for change in employment, there may also be a time for change in your approach to it.
7. In their next escape. Unhappy people seek escape. They believe distraction from their present circumstance is a shortcut to happiness. They often turn to television, addiction, or weekend getaways to numb the pain. But the entertainment always ends, the morning always comes, and the vacation always concludes. Meanwhile, the present circumstances have not changed—they have only been complicated. Happy people recognize their circumstances and do not require escape from them. Instead, they choose to practice peace inside them.
8. In the next person to solve their problems. Blame is a dangerous habit and a very real obstacle to happiness. Shifting the responsibility for shortcomings onto another person or external factor immediately eliminates any need or motivation to change. Instead, the victim remains trapped in a cell they built themselves—waiting for someone else to come solve their problems for them. But every time we blame someone else for our unhappiness, we lose. And in the long run, it keeps fulfillment and happiness just out of reach.
9. In accepting things just the way they are. Happiness can be discovered at any point in our lives regardless of our circumstances. But finding happiness in them does not mean we are complacent in the face of things that can be changed. It does not mean we stop striving or growing or maturing. We do not use happiness or contentment as an excuse for mediocrity. Instead, we walk forward in confidence and discipline to become the best possible versions of ourselves—not just for our own well-being, but for the well-being of others.
Your happiness is based solely on your decision to be happy—and this may be one of the most important life lessons any of us could ever learn.