We experience happiness not through what we have, but by what we do. When we let go of expectations of outcomes we experience happiness on a much higher level. Let go of your expectations of happiness. You’ll find happiness in the process.
Today’s post is another short chapter from my book, The Happiness Of Simple:
Happiness Is Not An External Experience
Many people look for happiness in things outside of themselves. This is a mistake. This only creates more complexity in their lives. Happiness must come from within.
I did not have many things as a child. My parents were poor. They fulfilled my basic needs and little more. I did not have much as a young man. I had little education and worked at jobs that paid minimum wage. I was able to sustain my basic needs.
In my thirties, I returned to school. After graduating, I made more money. I began to buy more material things. I discovered something. The more things I bought, the less satisfied I became. I found this curious and searched myself for the reason.
There’s A Simple Answer
Because I did not have much when I was young, I learned to appreciate the little things in life. Not the stuff, but my surroundings and my abilities.
I love what Leo Babauta from Zen Habits says about appreciating the little things in his book about contentment. He says, “Noticing and appreciating the goodness in a cup of coffee causes us to be happy.”
When I was younger I spent a lot of time in nature. I still do. I found that nature is an excellent place to find happiness. I noticed and appreciated the birds, the trees, the trickling creek. These things made me happy.
Recently, my daughter Annie was very angry about losing her iPod privileges for the afternoon. It was her consequence for not completing her homework as assigned.
I asked Annie to come help me rake the autumn leaves. In about fifteen minutes she was enjoying that experience. I asked her a few questions. “Annie?” I asked,
- Are you angry?
- Are you sad?
- Are you disappointed?
Annie answered each question with a firm, NO. Then I asked Annie if she was happy. She answered, YES. Annie found happiness in the simple act of raking leaves.
Happiness And The Internal Experience
People often complain about chores such as raking leaves or washing dishes. Think about that. It’s ridiculous. It’s been my experience that it’s often during these simple chores that we are most content.
Because we do not have expectations of a great outcome. We are simply doing what needs to be done. We find happiness in that simple process.
Many people seek great outcomes. They believe a new house, boat or car will bring happiness. They believe a new job or a raise will make them content. When they reach their goal they are temporarily elated. It passes. Soon they must find another thing to make them happy again. This is often how the cycle of addiction begins.
Don’t seek happiness in external things. Find happiness in the process of living.
I’m a musician. When I get a new instrument it makes me happy, but that feeling is fleeting. It’s in the playing of the instrument where true happiness is found.
It’s in the music, not the guitar.
It’s in the raking, not the rake.
It’s in the coffee, not the cup.
Take Action: Do you seek happiness through something outside of yourself? Do you eat too much? Do you drink too much? Do you buy too much? Do you do these things in an effort to be happy? Stop. Focus on your surroundings and your abilities. Take a few moments each day to find contentment in the simple act of being and doing.
If you’d like to experience happiness on a deeper level you need to let go of your preconceived expectations of what happiness is. Learn more ways to experience happiness in my free ebook today: