Archive for February, 2013

One step ahead …

February 20, 2013
One step at a time

One step at a time

In our last few posts we’ve discussed success, change and happiness. Specifically, the pursuit of these ideals as specific outcomes that define a future state; a state that ‘feels’ better than the present moment. This makes sense. It’s the fundamental of personal growth.

I don’t know about you, but I often wish that I were five steps ahead. This is the belief that the future will be better. ‘Things will be great when …’

I imagine that I will have achieved more, have more resources, be less stressed, experience less uncertainty and be happy where I am. But then I arrive in my own future and I feel the same way. I’m still hoping to be somewhere further down the road; another five steps ahead.

It’s an exhausting process that doesn’t leave any room for enjoying the present moment. It keeps us disconnected from ourselves and distracted from others because we’re trying to manage our future rather than enjoying the present.

So much of what we read is contradictory; set huge goals and strive for their achievement, or live totally in the ‘now’ because that’s the secret of happiness.

We can neither be so goal focused that we live entirely in the future; nor should we be so focused on the present moment that we fail to plan ahead.

The answer is rarely found in extremes. The secret to life is balance. So enjoy today while having an eye for the future.

Finding happiness in adversity

February 4, 2013
Our quest for happiness

Our quest for happiness

As the saying goes, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.

Those who can handle adversity are proof of one of the paradoxes of happiness: that real happiness requires a balance of experiencing the bad with the good, the dark with the light; each is needed to understand the other.

Many expect to be handed the perfect life, without the need to learn and grow from their experiences and, unfortunately for them, it rarely works out that way. Others talk proudly of the ‘scars on their back’, triumph over tragedy, or how sweet success tastes when rebounding from life’s setbacks.

Our modern quest for happiness has been reduced to a scramble for pleasure and instant gratification; a temporary state – a life protected from bad things, free from pain and confusion, where you are granted life’s prizes without the cost of earning them through experience.

This version of well-being ignores the satisfaction that comes from living a meaningful life. It’s the dark matter of happiness, the quality we admire in people we describe as successful, balanced, centred and happy – people we wish to emulate.

This broader definition of personal success is dominated by feelings of happiness but also seasoned with nostalgia and regret. To live a full life – to have a tranquil, easy existence – is not enough. We also need to grow. And sometimes growing means facing our fears, landing on our backside and, dare I say it, failing.

Negative events have the ability to shake up the status quo in our life, which opens the door for change. Implementing real change and coming to terms with our new reality takes conscious effort. Being willing to do this is one of the major differences between those who grow through adversity and those who are destroyed by it.