Less Collecting, More Reflecting by Heidi Doheny Jay, M.S.

Why is it so difficult for us to feel truly happy?

If I asked you right now to recall the happiest time in your life, my guess is you would remember an experience and most likely it would involve someone you loved.

I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t recall the day you purchased your Burberry watch or Scotty Cameron putter.

When reflecting on happiness, most of us remember experiences we’ve had with people, yet we yearn for material things when we contemplate our future happiness. The disconnect lies in our false belief that “things” will make us feel better. Society teaches us that if we have certain things then we’ll be happy and then we spend an exorbitant amount of time and money acquiring these things only to end up in the same unhappy place, but with very expensive things.

We seek happiness in a new pair of shoes, a new car or a five thousand square foot home.

We seek happiness in a new pair of shoes, a new car or a five thousand square foot home. We feel elation when we acquire these things but it’s fleeting and we usually want for something better several months later.

The never-ending pursuit of “things” is one of the best tricks played on humans and one of the deepest rabbit holes we could ever go down, yet we fall for it every time.

The reason, I believe, that happiness is so elusive is because we’re looking for it in the wrong places. We seek anything external to fill the void we feel inside. We convince ourselves that if our outer circumstances changed, we’d be happier.

Bryon Katie tells a story about a woman walking through the woods and she comes across what appears to be a snake. She immediately becomes terrified and frantic.

Her heart racing she tries to figure out how she’ll get around it? It’s right in her path. Will she die if it bites her? As she approaches it, she quickly realizes that the snake is actually a rope. She begins to laugh at herself for over reacting. She proceeds to walk around the rope, relieved that she doesn’t have to fend off the scary snake.

Pay attention to the thoughts we think and how they make us feel.

Her circumstances never changed. The snake/rope hasn’t moved; but her perception changed, and that made all the difference.

We all posses the power needed to change any situation with our thoughts. Trying to change outside circumstances in order to be happy is the biggest fool’s errand we’ve ever sent ourselves on.

So how do we discover this happiness?

We do it by monitoring our thoughts and emotions. We pay attention to the thoughts we think and how they make us feel. It’s a process and takes practice, but in order to truly change anything, we must first change ourselves; there is no other way.

It can be 3-4 minutes of quiet time in the morning −you can call it meditation if you’d like− just after awakening, prior to checking your phone or emails.

Give yourself this time to ask for a gift from the coming day, be thankful for the prior days gifts and the sleep you just had. Set your day in a positive direction, seeking only to notice and find the good things about anything that happens that day, regardless of your surroundings or what “reality” is showing you. So many wonderful and magnificent things happen to us daily but we fail to notice them.

Pay attention to what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling underneath everything.

Ask whomever you believe in for help with whatever you think you need and know that they are here to assist you. Ask them throughout the day to help you when something uncomfortable arises. Seek clarity, not an opportunity to ruminate only to keep the problem alive and well.

This quietness allows you to hear the thousands of messages we receive daily but are often too busy to hear. Other than your house being on fire, there is no other reason to put off doing this every morning. Alarms going off and kids screaming are no excuse for you to not take 3-4 minutes for yourself. Inner peace is worth waking up 5 minutes earlier.

If you become frazzled throughout the day, focus only on the opportunity that this perceived “problem” is showing you. You must consciously look for the good in it and change your perspective in order to stop the momentum of negative events.

We tend to focus on one or two seemingly bad things that happen in a day and we talk about them incessantly, actually fighting for our limitations.

The trick is to move past them quickly, look for the good, lighten up regardless of the circumstances and pay attention to what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling underneath everything.

Opportunities are presented to us in the most magnificent ways. If we all took responsibility for making ourselves happier, the world would undoubtedly be a more enjoyable place, but it has to start with you.