Have you ever met one of those people where you're just like, "OMG! How can they possibly be that happy all the time?!"I ran into somebody like that recently and it just blew my mind. This guy was a bellhop and could not be more excited about his job. As he pushed our luggage cart to the room, he was going on about how this is one of the best hotels in the state and all the great restaurants they had and did we want our boots shined and how we should check out the fitness center...and on and on!
Sure, most bellhops are casually nice (there's usually a tip in it for them, after all), but this guy was high on life!
I'll admit, in the moment, my brain was waffling between, "Wow, it must be great to love your job that much!" and "Holy moly, he needs to take a chill pill..."
Isn't it weird that that's where my mind went, though? That instead of embracing his joy, one of my first thoughts was, "Something must be wrong with him!"? There's NO WAY anyone can be that full of joy all the time. The world is a dark, scary place with lots of crappy things going on, right? Unflappable happiness is a sure sign you're losing it.
Or is it?
Society's Beliefs About happiness
I was recently listening to an episode of Brooke Castillo's Life Coach School Podcast and she was talking about the idea of beliefs. Beliefs are something we all have and they're 100% optional. At any time, we can re-examine a belief and either choose to continue believing it OR change it based on newly obtained information or a shift in opinion.
However, we often hold our beliefs so tightly and reinforce our thinking about them so often that we start to think our beliefs are fact.
And, so, I started to think about my own and society's beliefs about the role of joy and happiness in our everyday lives. Things like:
- Life is hard, so the only way to get through it is to toughen up (and get a helmet)
- If someone is happy all the time, there must be something wrong with them
- People who express an overwhelming amount of joy are annoying
- If you seem too happy, you're probably faking it and there's something horrible going on under the surface
- If people think I'm too happy, they also must not think I'm working hard enough
- I'm not allowed to spend time investing in my own happiness - I've got kids/a spouse/parents/coworkers/etc. to take care of
And I'm sure there are others.
But these are purely beliefs – and we can decide that we either a) want to keep on believing them as if they were fact (hint: they're not), or b) shift our beliefs based on a new worldview of what's possible for ourselves and others.
Your Nature is to be Happy
In a world where bad things seem to happen every day, we're under pressure to be everything to everyone, and where busy-ness is an epidemic, it can feel like all our problems would be fixed if we could just feel happier.
But, what if this is a false goal based on a false belief? What if happiness came naturally? What if we stopped saying, "Happiness is a destination that I'm trying to get to and I'm not there yet," (which is ultimately what you're saying when you say your goal is to be happy or happier than you are now) you started saying instead, "Happiness is my natural state – so my real goal is to get rid of all the crap that's keeping it hidden."
A bit of a mind shift, huh?
Think of a baby or a toddler for a moment. If you follow Mark on Facebook, you know that he's got a pretty cool little guy that's just over a year old. And here's the thing about Everett: as long as his needs are met (he's fed, clean, getting the attention he wants), he's a pretty happy kid! I'm sure you can think about other miniature humans you know who are the same way. They don't have many worries – no bills to pay or bosses to keep happy – so they default to their inherent nature: to be happy and see the world through fresh, exciting eyes.
At one point in time, we were all this way – and that natural ability to experience joy is still within you somewhere!
Cleaning out the mental junk
Now, if you believe that happiness is not a destination, but rather something that's inside of you all the time just fighting to get out, what do you need to get rid of to let it run free?
- Judgement about your self-worth?
- Old beliefs about how you should be spending your time?
- People who don't serve you?
- Fear of the unknown?
- Opinions about how happiness changes perceptions of you?
- The idea that you're a victim of your situation instead of the one in control of your thoughts, feelings and actions?
I'm not saying that shifting these mindsets will be easy. After all, many of these thought patterns and beliefs have probably been within you since you were a child (either consciously or subconsiously). It'll take work to evolve your thinking. You might even need some help from someone like us to provide perspective, feedback and accountability as you work through the tough stuff.
But at the end of the day, your joy is just hidden under mounds of mental "trash" and "clutter" that needs to be cleared out. Lucky for all of us, it's the season for spring cleaning.