Happiness is not a goal - happiness is a dynamic state. We all want to “be” what we each consider as “happy.” The concept of happiness is different for everyone. However, we all know that, despite our efforts to cage and bottle it, happiness generally does not last. As such, its value only exists in the present moment. It is very difficult to be happy tomorrow, and entirely useless to try to be happy yesterday. And even if we could, wouldn’t we be doing so from the present anyway? Whoa.
That isn’t to say a little planning doesn’t benefit our aspirations toward joy. To increase our chances for finding ourselves spontaneously dancing through the happy zone, the magic lies in setting the stage. So the question we must first ask is, “how can we set the conditions for happiness to arrive and maybe stick around for a bit?”
On some level, conditions for happiness are universal. What are the components where we are most sensitive to their quality? Sleep, food, water, shelter, love, and comfort are the basics. If someone comes along and messes with our ability to hydrate, or sleep, the emotional quality of our personality tends to rapidly deteriorate. Yet, when the external pressures of life demand our attention, these base components tend to be our first sacrificial offerings. While, when we finally snap under pressure, the base needs are where we return to take shelter and recharge.
When I was in Hawaii for four months in Fall 2016, I lived with 7 other people. Never before had I found such a close relationship with my base needs. In a living situation where we all had our preferences, we all had to find a way to coexist. Not only were we reliant on one other for meeting our basic needs, we were also vulnerable during our response to occasionally being unable to meet these needs. I found myself defaulting to one single act as my sole retreat: a quiet cup of morning coffee. It wasn’t easy to make happen. I began to arrange the conditions of my morning to facilitate for that quiet cup of coffee. Eventually, I managed to succeed on most days by setting up redundant plans. If one cabin was occupied, I had a backup cabin I could use. If both cabins were too busy for the “quiet” component, I could walk 20 minutes to the local coffee shop. In one of those three ways, each day, I achieved a happiness that I could carry through most days.
Here are some tips for setting up the conditions for happiness to be a frequent visitor:
Decide if You Really Want to Be Happy - Step One: Decide. Not even kidding… some people don’t want to be happy. This could (and probably will) be a blog post all its own, but just know that sometimes people seem to get more pleasure from being what strikes me as miserable than they do from what I think of as “being happy.” Happiness can actually make some people very uncomfortable. If this sounds like you, I would recommend starting with some serious journaling - I recommend Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” to work through what is happening there for you. And no, you don’t need to be an artist for it to work. Trust me. As I always say, nobody deserves to be judged. If being cynical, sarcastic, and abrasive is your adapter for the world and you’re not ready to change it, nobody can tell you that you need “fixing.” We all have the right to choose who we spend our time with and if someone has a problem with you but keeps showing up, it is actually their problem, not yours.
Build a Stable Framework - This can begin with the night before each day. You don’t have to plan your entire day the night before, but maybe visualize for a minute about a “Priority 1” task or event and when it will happen. In Legacy Command, we call these Priority 1 tasks or events “Key Charges.” Next, visualize your morning and structure that if you can. What time does your morning begin? Does it have a hard stop time? How long do you need to set yourself up for an optimal start? Personally, my time is just under 3 hours. You may need more time than you think. Once again, Legacy Command provides a tool in the form of the “Boot Sequence” and “Key Charge Map.” Developing a habit of nightly visualization can go a long way for the success of your days.
Strategize Redundancies - Just as with my solution for coffee in Hawaii, you must plan to be redundant. I prefer triple redundancy because even a backup plan can fail. Important note here: Write these down! Leave an open space in your schedule for the redundancies. Plans change, and life is messy. Be flexible with yourself when you are scheduling for self-care, so you can be rigid with its execution. I regularly schedule “planned spontaneity” into my day to account for whatever mood might arrive at a particular time of day. When is the last time you planned a mood? It can’t be done. Just as you can’t plan to want to do something, which leads us toward the “free will” and “discipline” subject - I will avoid this entirely as it is also a future blog post.
Eliminate Interruptions - This one is simple. Start using Do Not Disturb on your phone when you’re focusing on something. Don’t worry, this setting allows for someone who calls twice to get through, so you won’t miss “emergencies.” Airplane mode is different though, it will block everything - I stick to DND on my iPhone. Android also has this setting. A split mind is a handicapped mind. Multitasking is technically just an orchestra of one thing interrupting another, and it is usually a brutal cacophony for our stress levels, not a soothing symphony. We are subtly telling ourselves that we don’t have enough time to engage focused attention. Slow. Down. Try committing to making the important parts of your day into Single Task ONLY. Block out the time, and disconnect everything that isn’t that task. Be a little “bored” if you have to. (GASP)
Banish Entirely Any Mechanism of Comparison - Nobody else wakes up in your head, and nobody else has to coax it to sleep either. Comparison is founded in judgment. Comparison is the thief of joy. What people think about you is none of your business. Turn that judgmental eye toward your own strategy, and improve your framework to support what makes you happy as the person you are today. Start with an awareness of who you are comparing yourself to, specifically, and take it further by journaling about how you are definitely not them. If that makes you super sad, write about that too. Get it out. Cry all over it. Then, turn the writing toward the aspects of yourself you are grateful for. Because not a single person has the combination of awesomeness that you have. Anyone who got where you want to be had to be where you are now, first, to get there. Replace comparison with PERSISTENCE.
Live in the Present - OK. I know we hear this a LOT. But allow me to pitch it in what may be a new light. Every single person on this planet has the same 24 hours, yet, we all use that time very differently. The only person who can make sure you are happy with your 24, today, is you. You should set aside some time for planning for the future, and you should set aside some time for journaling about the past to gain those nuggets of growth. (growth nuggets? YUM) Absolutely. But the framework of events and activities in your day is yours to command. The flavors, the scents, the sights, the feelings, the textures, and the sounds all make up a one-of-a-kind tapestry that is your personal reality. If you don’t like living in it, change it. Again, I know we hear that a lot. But seriously, sacrificing happiness today for a theoretically happiness tomorrow is a BAD DEAL. What we want and who we will be in the future is absolutely unpredictable. Think back to 3 years ago and who you thought you were going to be, about how accurate was that? Exactly. Not very! Begin with an inventory. List the activities and events that already exists in your reality. In Legacy Command, this tool is known as the Campaign Regulator, but you can make this list on your own too. As I said before, you do more than you think. Give yourself some credit for what you’re already doing, first, then consider what you can chip away at outside of those huge and important things you already chose to have in your life. Who chose them? Let’s review: YOU DID. Cool! If they aren’t your favorite things, well then GREAT! YOU KNOW WHERE TO START MAKING CHANGES.
The “When All Else Fails” Document - Create a list for when all your happiness mood-making has left you with nothing but a bucket of SCREW THIS. The world can sometimes seem to be conspiring against us; we all have those days. Instead of having to think about it when you’re pissed off, impatient, broken, or otherwise malfunctioning, make your list of magically transformational transmutational activities. Some of my favorites include Palo Santo smudging, watching something funny (I have a list), or calling a friend who can handle my gripes. Everyone has different coping mechanisms, and as we know, some are better than others. Substances can definitely take a load off temporarily, and some people can use them without any issues. I am not one of those people. Once drugs and alcohol received the boot from my life, I gained a whole arsenal of new light weapons. I will wrap up with this one: Have you ever taken time to actually say thanks to your heart? I mean, that thing has beat without a SINGLE miss, pumping blood so you can live, day-in and day-out since BEFORE you were BORN. Take 2 minutes to put your hand on your heart and feel it working for you, never giving up - not even a little - and just say Thank You, heart. You’re a real pal for keeping me alive. I promise you will feel better after those 2 minutes. And your heart will be like, “Hey, no problem, buddy. I got you.”
Whether our destiny as humans is to become pure light beings of enlightened bliss, or not, has little to do with the unpredictable weather system of emotions that storms through this form of skin, muscle, blood, and bone in which each of us currently reside. I don’t subscribe to an insistence that we are necessarily meant to be radiant sunbeams of joy and bliss at every moment of every day. Being unhappy is TOTALLY fine, and TOTALLY human. How beautifully lucky we are to have the capacity for such a ranged experience. However, I do believe in the power of vibration. If there is one force for good in the world we all surely possess, it is the ability to coordinate our lives for happiness, joy, bliss, satisfaction, and gratitude. From this place of strength, we can give and share freely with those in need, and inspire others around us to do the same.
Finally, remember that SLEEP is a major gift to humans. We get a hard reset for each rotation we survive on this planet that is cruising through space whilst covered in weird crazy gorgeous magic. We’re only allowed to live life one day at a time. Junk days will come, but the world will still need your unique gifts and ideas tomorrow. Up-cycle that bad day into a journal entry. Sometimes the best we can do is make it to our bed, sleep it off, and show up for another spin.
Doing the Best You Can is Damn Good Enough.