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It's the ultimate question.
Why can't I be happy?
If you're human, you've asked yourself this.
True happiness seems like it's within reach.
And then...it doesn't appear.
It's like a mirage out in the desert.
But some people are actually happy, and they're able to be that way most of the time.
What do they do differently?
Today, you're going to learn two major reasons you're not happy--and what you can do to boost your happiness meter.
Reason 1 You Can't Be Happy: You Have Bad Habits
You are what you repeatedly do.
Another way to say this is: You will rise or fall to the level of your habits.
A habit is nothing more than a loop--a loop of trigger, response, reward.
What are the habits that run your life?
Have you considered this at all?
Here's another question.
How do your habits fit into your routines?
If these questions are causing you anxiety, it might be worth thinking about how the automatic loops of your lives are controlling your destiny.
If you wake up and the first thing you do is check your phone, you are telling your brain, "I'm just going to be reactive today. I'm going to respond to whatever happens to me."
But if you wake up and the first thing you do is stretch and drink a glass of water, you are telling your brain, "I'm in control. I'm going to be proactive and ready for my day."
Habits are absolutely everything.
There's a reason that the military drills the most basic habits into young men and women at boot camp.
If you can't make your bed with precision, how will you fare on the battlefield?
If you're thinking about what to do next for the first half-hour of your day, how prepared will you be when you need to take, quick, decisive action when your life depends on it?
People who think about their habits are people who decide to intentionally build lives they can be happy in.
Next Steps / Build Your Emotional Health with Habits
1. Understand that you CAN create your daily life.
It could just be a limiting belief that is holding you back. If that's the case, ask questions about why you believe what you believe. You may just need to give yourself permission to be the master of your own fate.
2. Set your personal life up to support your professional life.
Are you getting up 30 minutes before your workday begins and then rushing around to get to work on time? This might be a good place to focus on establishing habits and routines.
3. True happiness is not a goal. It's not something to be accomplished.
It stems from a strong foundation. A happy person is a person who builds the house for her happiness to live in. Happiness is not a one-time objective to cross off your list.
Reason 2 You Can't Be Happy: You Might Not Understand Your Emotions
Here's something else that you may need to bring to awareness.
It seems strange, but most people don't fully understand what they're feeling.
That, or they don't know they're feeling anything at all.
In the United States, we have a more robust vocabulary for sports and TV shows than we do for mental health and emotions.
I've worked with children and adults who could only name a handful of emotions when asked to describe what they were feeling.
I'm not saying this to be critical.
I'm saying this to point out a sad state of affairs.
The words we use in our everyday lives end up shaping our lives.
The vocabulary we build as a society says something about what we collectively value.
And when we don't have nuanced ways to describe our emotions, can you blame people for struggling to be happy?
Here's the reality: to be happy first requires a base level of awareness.
If you're not even aware of what is actually going on inside of you, how likely will it be that you can do something to change that?
When tackling a problem, you must first clearly identify the problem.
It's a principle that applies as much to building a bridge as it does to building a happy life.
Next Steps / Ideas to Find Your Happiness:
1. Take some time each day to understand what you're feeling.
2. Set a reminder on your phone to check in with yourself about your emotions at that point in time.
3. Ask questions, such as "Why did I respond that way? or "What else might I be feeling?" Peel away the layers of the first answer that comes to mind.
4. Dig deep for other words to describe your feelings. Play on your strengths to describe your emotions. Maybe you are a visual person. Paint a picture in your mind, and then describe that picture. Maybe you are more logical. Draw out a mind map. Write out the first big emotion that comes to mind, and then, like a tree, draw branches and attach similar words to the first one.
Habits. Emotions. Awareness. Foundation.
These are words that, by themselves, don't mean a whole lot.
But when you join them together, when you string them in a way that amplifies the meaning, you start to see the connections that lead to happiness.
You are what you repeatedly do and think.
Build your habits.
Find your words.
Happiness is the life you're in the process of creating.