People often want something different, something more. We find it quite hard to see the potential for happiness in the present, even when the present is fantastic. Even during our “most exciting times,” we tend to think about what’s coming next. On vacation, we’re thinking of the next day’s surfing, of the friends coming to visit, of the great dinner we’re going to have. It’s hard for us to “just be,” to eek out all the joy in what is happening right here, right now.
That little voice inside your head? What guff has that guy been feeding you now?
When you’re thinking about your dreams and aspirations, you might discuss them with your friends, your family, or your parents. These people might tell you that you can do anything you set your mind to, or they might tell you not to try so you won’t be disappointed. They may have your best interest at heart, or they may have ulterior motives.
But the bottom line is that they don’t know you the way you know you.
Throughout your life, you will get a lot of advice. Some of it will be awful. Some of it will be right on the money. Some will be unsolicited, from passing acquaintances, and some welcome, from people who know you well.
But none of it will be from the most knowledgeable perspective. That perspective is yours and yours alone.
Why is it that many people view everyday life as boring—something to just get through?
Many people spend their lives waiting. Waiting to achieve something. Waiting to get something. Waiting to be happy.
Conditional happiness is overrated. If we think that some future event or condition is going to make us happy, or turn our lives around, or bring us fulfillment, then we’ve missed the point. If we don’t have the capacity for happiness in “everyday” life, some future condition is unlikely to make us happy. We all have the capacity to be happy—some of us just don’t realize it.
Happiness is available to all of us right here, right now.
It’s inside all of us. If it’s not there, then no level of achievement, material gain, or lifestyle change is going to bring it to us.
For many of us, life is busy enough that a healthy perspective about the balance between what we get out of life and what we contribute to the world and other people is challenging. It can be hard to think about what we might do, not because we have to, but because it will make someone else happy—because it will make the world a better place.
The benefits of generosity
Why is giving back important? Whether or not we realize it, generosity is very beneficial to us. It makes us feel good about ourselves, it makes our relationships closer and warmer, and it contributes to meaning in our lives. Generosity also feeds on itself. If someone does something nice for you, you are more inclined to do something nice for someone else. We have a tendency to pay it forward.
In the modern world, we are often pulled in many directions at the same time. Demands of work, the needs of our family, our desire to be healthy—we have many voices demanding our attention and our emotional energy. Our lives can become a series of silos—discreet elements that don’t feed off of or into each other. This forces people to constantly switch gears mentally and emotionally. How can we prevent our lives from becoming a jumble of unrelated activities? How can we keep it all together?