On choosing happiness — will you treasure it now?
Happy New Year! Or is it? People wish it to you, to me — all the time.
So, how happy are you right now? Really?
What’s your plan to be happy this year? Or are you just going back to the “goal” and “resolution” process that really hasn’t worked that well for you over the past decade. Or is it two decades?
Caution: This is not one of those silly “have your best year ever” or “set your goals for the new year” messages. This is a challenge and an insight.
It started for me when I realized how debilitating and unhappy the word “after” is.
“After” is a self-defeating word. It robs you of the present and resigns you to wait, without taking any action.
You convince yourself that life will be better after something: after you get a new job, after you get a better job, after you get more money, after you get out of debt, after the economy rebounds, after your stocks go back up, after you get that big order.
You convince yourself that life will be better after an event: after you get married, after you have a baby, after you own a new house, after you take a vacation, after you come back from vacation, after summer is over, or some other action-procrastinating “after.”
Are you frustrated that your kids aren’t old enough and believe you’ll be more content after they’re in high school or out of high school? Are you frustrated you have teenagers to deal with? You will certainly be happy after they’re out of that stage. You’ll be even happier after they’re in college or is it out of college?
You tell yourself your life will be more complete when your spouse gets his or her act together, when you get a nicer car, a new house, a raise in pay, a new boss — or worse, after you retire. Really?
The truth is, the fact is, the reality is, there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? After the economy gets better? You may not be able to wait that long.
Your life will always be filled with challenges, barriers and disappointments. It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.
There is no “way” to happiness. Happiness is the way. There is no “after” to happiness. Happiness is now.
Here’s the answer: It’s inside your head first and everywhere else second. Happiness is a treasure. Your (missed) opportunity is to treasure every moment you have.
Stop waiting — until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose 10 pounds, until you gain 10 pounds, until you have kids, until after you quit smoking, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get your new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until the first or the 15th, until your song comes on, until you’ve had a drink, until you’ve sobered up, until you win the lottery, or until the cows come home — to decide there is no better time than right now to be happy.
Treasure the happiness of now because you share it with someone special enough to invest your time in and love your life as it is.
Happiness is not a sale or a commission. Not an economy or a budget. Not a yes or a no. Not a game-winning hit or a last-second touchdown.
Happiness is a way of life that is inside you at all times. It helps you get over the tough times, and it helps you celebrate the special times. It seems pretty simple to define on paper but really difficult to manifest when the chips are down.
My experience has taught me the difference between resign and resolve. You can resign yourself to what is and hope or wait for a better day. Or you can resolve that you are a positive person who finds the good, the positive, the happiness, the smile and especially the opportunity in everything.
Happiness is now, not a goal or a destination.
Happiness is not an after. It’s a before.
And it’s up to you. All you have to do is decide.
Happy New Year!
Editor’s note: Jeffrey Gitomer is on sabbatical. This column originally appeared in the Dec 29, 2014, Business Journal.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 12 best-selling books. His real-world ideas and content are also available as online courses at GitomerVT.com. For information about training and seminars visit gitomer.com or gitomercertifiedadvisors.com, or email Jeffrey personally at email@example.com.