A tragic irony of life is that we so often achieve success after the reason for which we sought it has passed.- Ellen Glasgow
Take out your journal and write down 10 positive things about your life as it is right now. A popular goal on 43things.com is to list 100 things that make you happy (besides money), but let’s just start with 10.
It is important to know what makes you happy today because humans are not very good at predicting future happiness or unhappiness for that matter, according to a New York Times article called “The Futile Pursuit of Happiness.”
The job of our brains is to keep us regulated, not to make us happy. “When it comes to predicting exactly how you will feel in the future, you are most likely wrong,” states the article. For example, we think that a five bedroom house or luxury car will make us deliriously happy for all of eternity. Only when we get what we want we grow weary of it and yearn for something different. And again we predict incorrectly, or as the article states we “miswant” over and over again.
Thus the warning we’ve all heard “be careful what you wish for,” or the curse “may you get what you want.”
The beauty of finding something that makes you feel good right now is you don’t have to wait, you don’t have to strive, you don’t have to do anything because you already have it. It’s yours.
In terms of life coaching, this is another reason why it’s important to break large goals down into small bite size parts. What did you do today that will bring you closer to your goals? Congratulate yourself for taking this small step. If we can’t predict future happiness, these small steps may be where the fulfillment is found, not in the end goal itself.
Also as I’ve stated before, the purpose of goals is not happiness per se, but rather self actualization. You learn something from every goal you pursue. I’ve achieved goals and not felt particularly “happy,” but rather I felt a myriad of other things like grateful, energized, curious, helpful, productive, organized, engaged, accountable, well-informed, healthy, inspired, useful, pleased, optimistic, relieved and so on.
If we can’t predict future happiness, now is really all we have. Tomorrow we’ll experience another “now” and yet another the following day and if we take a few moments to reflect, we can always find something in our current lives to feel good about.
List your 10 things right now.