Updated: Jul 23, 2019
All people want to be happy but not everyone is. Some people are not happy because their fundamental framework for seeking happiness is flawed. A few of the most notable narratives about finding happiness are:
The "happily ever after" narrative – This approach involves hoping that happiness will come galloping over the next horizon–the classic Prince Charming and Cinderella story. This mindset is waiting for a fairy tale beginning or ending.
The "when my ship comes in" narrative – Waiting for something good to come your way is the central idea. Whether it's good fortune, a great success, or the payoff for some investment or venture, it's the hope for making it big. Unfortunately, it can go the other way as in "this ship has sailed," which means an opportunity has been lost or it didn't pan out.
The "blessed from beyond" narrative – In this framework the premise is that the source of happiness is otherworldy – an act of God or the supernatural, a gift from the Universe, or achieving a state of perfect enlightenment.
The common denominator in these narratives is that it makes a person a passive participant in their own happiness – waiting, hoping, praying for circumstances to change and something good to appear.
But what if none of those frameworks work out for you? Is there a Plan B for happiness?
I want to suggest another narrative of happiness for your consideration. It's the "I can cultivate happiness for myself" narrative. The idea with this framework for happiness is that it acknowledges that you have the ability to take action, be effective, influence your own life, and successfully assume responsibility for your well-being.
In my own personal life and in my work as a spiritual director and personal development mentor, I have discovered there is one simple and reliable way to cultivate happiness in your life. If you want deep-rooted happiness and well-being, cultivate that which is not subject to loss and gain, unceasing, and has no beginning or end.
Money is subject to loss and gain; it comes, it goes.
Possessions are subject to loss and gain; they come, they go.
Status is subject to loss and gain; it comes, it goes.
Success is subject to loss and gain; it comes, it goes.
Physical health is subject to loss and gain; it comes, it goes.
Approval is subject to loss and gain; it comes, it goes.
Appearance is subject to loss and gain; it comes, it goes.
What is not subject to loss and gain? Love, kindness, goodness, courage, justice, beauty, and generosity are a few tried-and-true pathways for genuine happiness you are free to express and cultivate in every moment of life. No circumstance can strip you of the choice to: honor your highest truth; be your true self; act according to virtue; follow the path of wisdom; see the world through eyes of compassion; be a person of goodwill; or learn something valuable for your life journey.
Happiness may not gallop over the next hill, sail in on a ship, or drop down from above, but the good news is that you can cultivate a life of deep meaning and well-being in these simple but profound ways. That's not Plan B, it's Plan A.
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