How to Create Happiness
Are you happy?
It's the question we all want to answer with a resounding "Yes."
It's the question we ask ourselves when we feel a gaping hole in our relationship, our job, and our lives.
It's the question we ask our friends and family when you see the weight of the world on their shoulders. Hoping they will take action to change their situation.
It's the feeling we chase in life that is often a moving target. Hoping that a future job, a future relationship, a future bank account filled with commas will eventually take us to a one way trip to happiness island.
It's the rabbit that we can't seem to catch. At least it is for most people.
I hate to bust your bubble, but we all know that happiness is not a destination, it's a choice.
Happiness is not a perfectly wrapped gift you get at the end of your journey. You don't earn happiness. You choose it. It is a decision. A decision you need to make every day. A decision that stems from your own intentions and actions to do good.
In fact, the goal is not necessarily to be happy. The goal is to be useful. And by being useful you will always be happy. I believe that mantra was by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It is so true. After all, we all want to feel useful in this world.
So what is the quickest way to create happiness?
It is simple.
"Happiness is achieved when your words and works are used to benefit others."
To be happy, just make others happy. Do good for others and you will feel good about yourself.
If you want to cheer yourself up, cheer someone else up.
It is a bullet proof strategy to feel a rush of happiness.
In fact, it might be the best way you can "Be useful" in this world. Because the greatest currency on earth is your impact on others.
I stumbled upon a life changing practice by Chade-Meng Tan in the book "Tools of Titans" by Tim Ferris. Chase-Meng is a Google pioneer, author, engineer, and the leader of the mindfulness-based emotional intelligence training course called Search Inside Yourself.
His practice was simple. Wish for a random person's happiness. Just take time during your day to secretly wish for another person's happiness. It can be someone who passes by you at the store, work, or driving on the road. Just say "I wish for this person's happiness. I wish for this person to be fulfilled." Just send good vibes to a random person who doesn't even know it.
I immediately started this practice every morning on my way to work. Sometimes it would be at a stop light, sometimes it would be at the gym. I would just see someone randomly and wish for their happiness. I felt a burst of fulfillment every time I did it because I knew I was not making everything about myself. I was trying to do a little bit of good, and I didn't need to share it with anyone for recognition.
This 10 second routine sparked a more formal practice where I would spend a couple of minutes a day wishing for the happiness for people in my life both past and present. People outside of my immediate circle. You get bonus points if you do this for your enemies. That practice is a lot harder. I am not a saint. I will leave that one for the pope. I kid I kid.
After weeks of being consistent, I finally shifted to a practice that is embedded in my weekly routine. I will send a random text to people I haven't spoken to in a while and check on how they are doing. I normally do it after a walking meditation that is largely focused on gratitude.
I let them know that I was thinking about them, mention how they impacted my life, how I appreciate them, and ask how they are feeling.
If you do this, you will be blown away by the responses from giving this random act of kindness.
It validates this simple truth, most people won't stop and take a moment to really check on you. Not because they don't care, but because they are too busy with life.
Renzo Gracie once said, we are all battling something. We are all in some type of fight. Knowing this, it feels good when someone you respect sends you a text that genuinely asks about your well being. It is always comforting to have someone reassure you that you aren't alone.
As the sender of the text, it's almost a selfish and selfless act at the same time. Why do I say selfish? Because I do it for myself as much as I do it for the person receiving the message. Deep down, I know that by showing this act of kindness, I will feel happy and fulfilled. Not because I expect something in return, but because I am doing some good in the world. I am extending a hand to help, inspire, and elevate someone else.
It is the best way to be "Selfish." Plus, it feels good to chase that feeling. The feeling of being useful. The feeling of doing some good.
And it only took me a couple minutes to do it. And those minutes might have made someone's day.
Remember this, a four letter word for happiness is "G I V E."
Give your time. Give your love. Just Give to another human being. Be it through your words or your works. It can be as small as 10 second-thought, an encouraging text, or a loving donation of your time.
If you do this often enough and expect nothing in return, I promise you will feel better. You might even stumble upon that moving target of happiness. The rabbit that we are all trying to catch.
It is a lot easier to catch than you think. It is a choice. It has always been a choice.