Ask anyone if they’d like to be happy and they’ll say yes.  I mean, c’mon–we’re a nation obsessed with happiness! The right to the pursuit of happiness is even in our Constitution.

Okay, so we’ve established that everyone wants happiness.  So, you ask:  “How do I get there?  How can I get happy?” Great question!  ‘Cause if everyone knew the formula, there’d be a whole lot of happy people out there. Lots of people usually think of happiness as a goal or destination to arrive at.  It’s like a prize at the end of a long road.  When everything’s perfect, then I will be happy.  Check this off my list, then this, and someday I will reach Happiness.  That “then” place is a make-believe place of perfection/ where the stars line up and angels are singing your name.

What’s essential to obtaining happiness is recognizing that happiness is found not in perfection, but in progress.

It’s found in the doing, the being, the path, the journey.  It’s found working through the challenges, the flow, the creating, the loving.  There is no ultimate state of happiness or being.  You don’t get to achieve this perfect state of being and then go home (even Buddha had tasks to do in everyday life).  It is always evolving, always changing, always progressing.  Perfection is an idealized, never-to-be-reached state.  Photoshop can’t work it, money can’t buy it, the right connections can’t help you (well, God/Source can),…

Learning to accept imperfection is part of being happy–of accepting what is instead of what might be or what could have been.

The state of happiness is found in the Now.  it can be found in your attitude and your thoughts.  It’s in your habits and routines.  YOU are responsible for your happiness.

There’s a flip-side to happiness that you may not have thought of:  Knowing pain allows you to fully feel joy. This pain and happiness thing–it’s the yin and yang of life.  Pain helps magnify the experiences of happiness in your life.

No one is happy all the time.  However, there is the overall sense of happiness you can feel about yourself and your life at any given time.

One of the ways to sustain a lasting sense of happiness, is to become 100% responsible for your thoughts, words, and actions.  Part of the happiness process is owning your own stuff.  Knowing you aren’t a victim, knowing you’re imperfect, knowing you have room to grow and to learn, knowing it’s up to you and not up to anyone else.  Your “problems” are there for one reason–to provide you with learning opportunities.  How will you grow from your challenges?  How will you use them to enhance your life–and others’ lives?

Another side of happiness that no one really talks about is feeling your fear and acting in spite of it.  Challenges test your strength and courage, but afterwards when you’ve come through it you feel good!  Positive change is good–it pushes you past your limits and expands and enhances your world.

And what if you fail? What if you’re out there in the world and you bomb?  Maybe you give a speech that no one likes or you ask someone out and they reject you?  I like Taylor Swift’s new song “Shake it Off” and the haters gonna hate line for the answer.  Not everyone is going to like you–it’s just an unfortunate fact of life.  Let’s say there’s a football game on and your favorite team is playing–part of that audience is not going to like your team.  Yet, your team’s out there playing in spite of the boo’s.  They’re doing their best and they go home to  a family that loves them.  They don’t care about the audience that doesn’t like them–they play to the part of the audience that does.  And they play their best for their teammates and for themselves.  You go do the same.  You’ll be a whole lot happier.

Ready for another side of happiness you probably haven’t thought much about?  Human beings have two distinct drives when it comes to happiness:  they avoid pain at all costs and they are driven toward pleasure thinking that pleasure will provide them with happiness (pleasure is temporary).  If you want lasting happiness, you need to have a deep and motivating purpose when pursuing your pleasures.  Many people’s motivations center around external and superficial things–having lots of money (for the sake of having money), a great love life (where happiness is embodied in the other person), fame (approval or notice of others), and the like.  However, if those things are based on superficial or external reasons, your happiness will be fleeting. It’s like the roots of a tree–if your happiness is based on things others can take away, your roots will be shallow and your tree will topple over.  Happiness is an inside job where you provide the deep and lasting roots to meaning and fulfillment.  Having a deeper purpose for your pursuits connects you to real and lasting happiness.