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Dear Friend: Finding Joy Beyond Milestones



Frequently, I find myself reminding a dear friend that life is happening right now; happiness isn't something we can postpone for a future moment when everything falls into place. That blank space we fill with conditions like "when I lose weight", "when I land my dream job" or “when I get married” keeps shifting, delaying our contentment. Now, this friend of mine is brilliant, adorned with numerous accolades, and adored by many, yet happiness eludes them for various reasons. I understand that some people seem to effortlessly radiate happiness, but many overlook the fact that it's a daily commitment—a journey of self-discovery and joy cultivation. You may not have every aspect of your life sorted out at this moment, and undoubtedly, you harbor lofty dreams, but your current emotional state often persists even after achieving those milestones. Thus, cultivating happiness and figuring out how to enjoy your life right now is paramount.

 

Recently, insights from a podcast episode shed light on why our emotional state remains unaltered after achieving milestones. Logan Ury, a behavioral scientist turned dating coach, delved into a list of factors that matter less than perceived when selecting a partner for a successful long-term relationship. Contrary to common beliefs, factors like physical attractiveness and financial status matter less in long-term relationship success than perceived. While initial attraction is important, humans tend to adapt to their surroundings, suggesting that overemphasizing looks and wealth may not lead to lasting happiness in your relationship. Ury shared that individuals often return to their baseline level of happiness despite significant changes in circumstances, such as winning the lottery. Therefore, while attraction and financial stability play a role in relationships, it's essential not to overemphasize them and instead focus on deeper connections and emotional compatibility for enduring happiness.

 

The nugget for me (a sentiment echoed in recent articles that I’ve read) is that after a certain period, we adapt to the new circumstance, and it becomes the norm. And this is with anything. Therefore, even after achieving our "fill in the blank" moments, we return to our baseline happiness. You aren’t going to suddenly change into this “magically happy, rainbows and butterflies, my life is perfect” kind of person. This underscores the importance of working on your baseline happiness every day so that no matter what the situation is, as you move through life, as you adapt to it, your baseline happiness is high.

 

To improve our baseline happiness, we need to do practices that nurture our intrinsic contentment daily, which will hold regardless of external circumstances. This is not an easy task, nor does it happen overnight. Yet, with conscious effort, it's achievable! Building a repertoire of personal feel-good tools and habits, switching to a diet that supports your well-being, and nurturing a positive mindset are steps toward sustained joy. Amidst life's chaos, finding reasons to smile and moments to appreciate becomes a transformative practice.

 

Self-reflection and intentional speech play crucial roles in shaping our reality and grounding us in appreciation for the present. Years ago, while in the company of a married couple, a conversation about the life of a super-wealthy individual prompted a profound realization. The wife exclaimed, “That is the life to have!” In response the husband, without missing a beat, retorted, “What's wrong with our life? We are blessed with so much.” The wife quickly agreed, bringing her awareness back to reflect on how wonderful their life actually was. And to many people, this couple’s life would be considered amazing! I mean, we were sitting in their beautiful, warm European home, having a delicious meal together! This incident, while seemingly insignificant, underscored the importance of gratitude. It reminded me that all jokes aside, we should regularly bring ourselves back to being grateful for our current situation, reflecting on what we have and what we can create with it.

 

Ultimately, regardless of whether we accomplish all our "fill in the blank" goals, our response determines our happiness. Gratitude breeds joy, while discontent fosters dissatisfaction. Let's collectively strive to enhance our baseline happiness and revel in the joy and fun in our lives at this very moment. After all, this isn't a dress rehearsal; this is the main show.

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Guest
Mar 14

Excellent piece, I am going to read it a few more times and share 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

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Replying to

Yay! So happy to hear this feedback! Thanks so much for reading and also for sharing 😊

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