Why Happiness Isn't AT ALL What You Think It Is

Photo: weheartit
Why Happiness Isn't What You Think It Is

We’ve all seen the movies. You know...the ones with the happy endings. The guy gets the girl. The heroine saves the day. Everyone is happy. Dramatically, obviously happy.

We all also know by now that those movies with their dreamy endings and perfect plot lines in no way resemble real life. As we’re up to our elbows in the mess that is day-to-day living, it is easy — and normal — to wonder where our happy ending is.

We’ve been conditioned to expect the charismatic characters, the sudden realizations, and the dramatic plot twists that often embody happiness in fiction. But real life is quiet.

We work, we spend time with our families, we invest in friendships, and sometimes, in the middle of the night, we wonder, "Am I happy?"

Often, we don't know how to be happy or how to get that state.

Happiness isn’t a place we get to. It’s less "firework show" and more "peaceful knowledge." What we don’t see in fiction is that happiness is almost always accompanied by its two companions — contentment and gratitude.

These three things fit together in ways that make them inseparable. We cannot have one without the other.

If, in the middle of the night, you ask yourself that fateful question and the answer is no, there are a few follow-up questions you can ask to refocus:

1. "What am I grateful for?"

Gratitude is the fastest road to happiness. Scientifically speaking, it actually rewires your brain to feel happy.

There many ways to practice gratitude and make it part of your daily life. Choose one, stick with it, and watch your outlook change.

RELATED: 5 Small Things To Be Grateful For, Even When Life Is Getting You Down

2. "How am I taking care of myself?"

Often, feelings of unhappiness sneak in because we are so distracted by responsibilities that we forget to take time to invest in ourselves.

Self-care looks different for everyone. Make sure that you make time for whatever it is that leaves you feeling refreshed and energized.

3. "Where am I investing my time and energy?"

This is where contentment comes in. Contentment essentially means being satisfied with what we have. It doesn’t mean we become complacent and don't have goals.

There is a delicate balance wherein we are grateful and content — fully satisfied in the present moment — and continue working for more without allowing that to distract us from the fullness of the present. The things that occupy your thoughts the most throughout the day are a good indication of where you’re investing the best parts of yourself.

Make sure you’re being mindful of that investment and still holding dear the moments you have today.

The world is unpredictable. One thing we can know for sure is that there will be both good and hard times. Happiness, then, cannot be dependent on what is happening around us. Instead, it must be a product of our internal process.

If our internal process is lacking either gratitude or contentment, happiness will be fleeting and unpredictable at best. The good news is that both of these vital pieces are like muscles — they can be developed with time and dedicated practice.

If you’re not happy today, you won’t be happy with the beach house, perfect job, or ideal partner.

So, be bold in asking yourself today, "Am I happy?"

If the answer is "no", there are ways to find that happiness, and they almost never mirror what we see in movies. Instead, it involves digging deep into yourself, finding the negative thought patterns, and building your happiness from within.

Gretchen Hydo is a certified professional coach, keynote speaker, nationally syndicated advice columnist, and thought leader. If you’re ready to begin, contact her today for your free 30-minute consultation and join the positive, supportive community on Facebook at Shine on Purpose, because it’s never too late to discover deep and lasting happiness.

Watch Pat Love and YourTango Experts discuss how happiness is an inside job.

This article was originally published at Any Lengths Life Coaching. Reprinted with permission from the author.