If you haven’t read my introduction and Secret #1 of The 7 Secrets to Surviving the 20-Something Years, click here.
The second “secret” is about getting “real” about real life. Everyday is can be a bit boring at times. Have you ever stopped to think about all the thoughts and feelings you experience in just one day? It’s incredible to think about how many different feelings we experience in just the commute to work in the morning.
So many clients come to me feeling like their doing something wrong because they don’t feel “happy” all the time. It’s impossible to be “happy” every day, all day. Knowing this, what should you be focusing on? Keep reading to find out.
Secret #2: Let’s get real about “real life”
Someone once said to me, “In order to experience true happiness, you have to experience true sadness.” As much as we wish life were simple and fun and full of laughter, it isn’t. This is actually a good thing. Our sadness, our disappointments, and our fears make us appreciate and cherish the times we feel at peace, when we feel confident in our abilities and when we accomplish a big goal.
If we got everything we wanted, all the time, what would be the point?
Real life is full of mundane, boring parts. There will always be dishes to wash and laundry to fold, so you can’t measure your life based on how happy you are in the moment. Even when you really enjoy what you do for a living, have a loving partner and a home you adore, there are still boring parts of the day.
So what is “real life” all about? It’s about finding meaning. In 2013 a study was published in an issue of the Journal of Positive Psychology in which psychological scientists asked nearly 400 Americans ages 18 to 78 whether they thought their lives were meaningful and/or happy.
The researchers found, "Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided."
In other words, happiness is fleeting and your own happiness can only be measured or judged based on how well things are going that day or week or month. While this kind of life may sound pretty good to you, what are you going to do when things aren’t going so well?
No one gets through this life without pain, frustration, or heartache. The researchers found, “While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness but not at all with meaning.”
If you can focus on less on “being happy” and more on creating meaning, you’ll be able to get through and manage those tough times and when it’s all over, the joy and relief will feel even better.