With today’s post, we continue on our journey to Energy Leadership with an exploration of the pursuit of happiness. Many of us strive for happiness and feel we deserve it. In the United States Declaration of Independence, author Thomas Jefferson posits “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
What does it mean to pursue happiness? When we think of pursuing something, we usually mean that we’re going after something we don’t already have. In Marci Shimoff’s book, Happy for No Reason, she points out that in Jefferson’s time, “to pursue something meant to practice that activity, to do it regularly, to make a habit of it.” There’s a huge difference between chasing happiness and practicing happiness. When we chase after happiness, we’re coming from a perspective of lack—we don’t have the thing that we want. But when we practice happiness, we’re active participants in making ourselves even happier.
So how can we practice happiness? For 10 key practices, click here to listen to “How to Be Unreasonably Happy,” an interview with Bruce D. Schneider, author of Energy Leadership and founder of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC).
The first key is to know that you can weather your moods. Like the weather, your moods are always changing. Recognizing and accepting your moods and knowing that they will change is essential to being able to practice happiness.
If you realize this, then when you are up, you can fully appreciate the “up” times while they last, recognizing they’re not meant to last forever. (In fact, if it lasted forever, it would lose its meaning because up is only up if there’s a down to compare it to.
The same is true of the “down” times. You know they won’t last forever and, because everything is an opportunity, you are able to embrace and weather the perceived difficulties, knowing they offer the great gifts of deeper insight and personal growth. One of the great opportunities is to deepen your ability—whatever the circumstances— to demonstrate unconditional love, respect, curiosity, compassion and gratitude for yourself, every being, encounter and situation.
Next time you’re having a great or not so great day, appreciate that day for what it is, know that it won’t last and rejoice that each day moves you forward in the pursuit of happiness on your own personal journey to wholeness.
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