You’re a high-end achiever. You’ve worked your behind off, and you got it all. You got the money, the house, the car, the career, the family…. You’re living the dream! Or so it seems to everyone else.
But you know the truth. You know that deep down there’s that emptiness that you can’t seem to fill no matter what you do.
You’re talented, you’re driven, you’ve got it all together, but somehow, feeling happy… that’s an achievement that seems to be moving farther and farther away from you… “What am I doing wrong?” you wonder.
So let’s back track. Why did you embark on the path you had taken that lead to where you are right now? Why did you want the money, the car, the house, the relationship, or your independence… I mean, why did you REALLY want any of those? I’m sure you can come up with different reasons justifying each one of them.
I’m going to suggest, however, that they all have one thing in common, and that’s why you truly desired each and every one of them. So here’s my initial answer: you thought that you would be better off by having attained that thing that you desired.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? We all want that next job, that bigger house, that more expensive car, that next step in the relationship… we always want more and more and more because that’s the indicator that we’re better off than where we were before, right? If we had one dollar and now we have two, it seems logical that we’re better off now, doesn’t it? At least, that’s what everybody’s telling us.
So now I want to give you my real answer for why you truly desired each and every one of those achievements that you had achieved and those accomplishments that you had accomplished: you wanted them because you thought that by having them you would feel better.
And herein lies the first Bliss Paradox, the number one reason why you are not yet feeling better, and that in actuality, you are feeling worse with each new achievement.
It’s the reason why you are feeling empty, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled. It’s the reason why you might be feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and overall exhausted by your emotional experience, constantly judging yourself for the worse.
To explain the first Bliss Paradox, let me ask you this: how do you know when you’re happy? When I ask others this question, their answers are always a depiction of emotions.
Happiness is an experience, it’s a feeling; it’s not a thing. It’s a feeling of contentment, of faith, of certainty, of serenity, of elation; it’s a pleasant feeling all around. The operative word is “feeling” rather than “accomplishing”, “achieving”, or “having”. And that is where the paradox lies.
You see, we measure our happiness by how we feel, but we measure our success by what we achieve. Which means two things. First, it means that being successful is highly unlikely to lead to our happiness.
But more importantly – and this is the second consequence of the first Bliss Paradox – we rest our happiness on all those things that we’re set to accomplish, achieve, and have.
And that, my friend, is detrimental. So here’s the thing: we’ve all been taught to think that our emotions are a reaction to events that occur in our life, right? And we take it for granted that our emotions have this life of their own that is beyond our control or our understanding, right? So when your emotions are tied to these events that occur in your life, when are you going to be happy?
Stop and think: how did you end up having it all but feeling empty, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled? How is it that you invested some seriously precious resources of yours – time, money, energy – to climb so high up on your ladder, only to find out it was leaning against the wrong building? I mean, let’s face it, you’re a high-end achiever, you’re really good at what you do, and you’re really motivated.
You’re outstanding and astounding! Truly, you are absolutely magnificent. Look at everything you have accomplished thus far. And before I move on, I want to truly celebrate you and your achievements.
Don’t belittle them or yourself just because you haven’t found your happiness in them. Please recognize the full magnitude of your wowness! I know I do. And it would do you worlds of good to recognize the full magnitude of your wowness, too.
So while you are absolutely amazing, what you are not, and it’s the ONLY thing that you are not – is practiced at focusing on your happiness. While being focused on your success, you worked under the assumption that your success equates your happiness without ever questioning that assumption.
Maybe you found yourself saying “when I have that car, I’ll be happy,” “when I get that promotion or those clients, then I’ll be happy,” “when X, Y, or Z transpires, that’s when I’ll feel however it is I wanted to feel.”
The thing is that when your happiness depends on that thing that is absent from your life, then you have no idea when you’ll be happy, and in the meanwhile you’re just miserable because you’re not, or you can’t be, happy until that thing becomes present in your life.
Note that thing doesn’t have to be something tangible or material like the car, the house, the money, the job, or the relationship. It can also be a state of mind. “I can’t be happy until I find balance in my life,” or “…until I find tranquility and relief.”
And what’s the result? While your happiness depends on that one thing transpiring and showing up in your life, meanwhile life feels just darn awful because in order to be happy, you must put all of your energy and effort into changing your circumstances.
In essence you are saying to your current car, house, spouse, child, boss, friend or colleague “please change, so that I can be happy”. You have outsourced your happiness, my friend, and that is how you ended up feeling empty, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled.
So how do you take control over your happiness, now? I’m sure you’ve heard it said more times than you can count – do the things that make you feel happy. Let’s take a look at that, then, shall we? When I asked others this question, they said things like spending time with their family, gardening, contributing and volunteering, traveling, working out, or meditating make them happy.
I’m sure you have your own answers as well. I would agree: while some will work faster than others, these are wonderful techniques for feeling better, and I would strongly encourage you to pursue whatever makes you feel happy. But… and this is a HUGE but… the common thread to all of these activities is that you’re still outsourcing your happiness.
When you’re choosing to do any of these activities in order to feel better, you’re still surrendering your happiness to different circumstances. You’re still not in full control of it. What if it rains? How are you going to go out on a walk then? What if construction works just begin outside your window as you sit down to meditate? Or perhaps it’s just the neighbor’s son practicing his drumming skills?
To resolve the first Bliss Paradox, you’re going to have to focus on the true measurement of happiness, which is feeling great. Or at the very least, feeling good.
What I mean by this is that if feeling good is the goal, then the means should be directly affecting the feeling rather than indirectly affecting it like taking some action that will eventually make you feel good.
If feeling good becomes the consequence rather than the goal, you’re misdirecting your efforts again because you’re willing to feel lousy on the way to feeling good.
So let’s say you’re feeling pessimistic and discouraged. Going out for a walk could probably help you feel better, but it teaches you nothing about the control you have over your emotions. You might be feeling great by getting out there, and, again, I encourage you to do anything that feels great, but more importantly – I want you to take the direct route for changing your feeling.
So how do you break the cycle? When I work with my clients, the first thing I suggest they do is decide that their good feeling is their TOP priority. Not A priority but their TOP priority. So this sounds like a strange thing to say, right? I know you’re thinking right now, “but wait – of course it’s my top priority; everything I do, I do because I know it will make me feel good,” right? But is it making you feel good? How long do you need wait until it makes you feel good?
At any point in time in your life, what would you answer if I asked, are you feeling good now? And now? And now? So, for us humans… feeling good is a matter of now. And now. And now. And now.
You don’t have to wait for long to find out if your strategy is working. You don’t have to spend years on chasing those goals to figure out that’s not working for you. You don’t even have to spend months or weeks at it.
Unless you wake up absolutely excited about the new day and what’s coming, then you’re paying a big price of sucking it up and being unhappy until that time when you can get that – fill in the blank – and be happy with it.
Doesn’t it seem contradictory to you now that if everything you’re doing is because you think it will make you feel good, you’re willing to feel less than amazing on the way there? Think about it.
Anything we do we do because we’re thinking we will be feeling better for the having of it, right? But that puts feeling good last. When we do things in order to feel good, feeling good becomes a result, one which we can’t necessarily control.
But if you decide that your happiness comes first, and you make sure that no matter what you do, you’re going to be feeling great, where does that leave you? Can you imagine a life where feeling great comes before anything else? That’s the kind of life my Living Bliss Now program teaches you to live.
In that life, where feeling great comes first, where it is your TOP priority, being right is a lower priority. Being offended becomes a lower priority.
All those times when you hear someone say to you something that you hear as criticism leading you to feel small and unworthy – they no longer have a place in your life. We are used to place so many things in a higher priority over our feeling better and there are so many ways by which we sacrifice our feeling good.
Just think of what you are saying to yourself… how often are your pep talks empowering compared to those in which you are bringing yourself down, belittling yourself, and being unkind and un-nurturing to yourself? My students learn to change that around so that their life feels good, regardless of the circumstances.
So I urge you: make feeling good your TOP priority. Measure your entire life against that priority. Ask yourself at any decision-making point: “Am I keeping my feeling good as my top priority when I choose”… whatever it is that you are choosing.
Don’t let anything slide under the radar of feeling good. Start your choices by feeling good so that the ladder you are climbing is one that feels good with every step that you climb, every achievement that you achieve, and every accomplishment you accomplish.
Make sure that your life is filled with happiness BEFORE it is filled with anything else. Turn happiness into your path and way of being rather than a goal, or worse – an uncontrollable consequence. Don’t follow your bliss; rather, let your bliss guide you in every step you take.