Our society is on the perpetual hunt for more happiness. As a Transformational Coach, I encounter a LOT of people who want to be happier in their lives. Just this morning, a client expressed to me: "I just want to be happy!". Happiness has turned into something that people believe is outside of themselves as if they play no role in creating it, like something you can buy at the store.
What I see more than anything is that people are longing for deep fulfillment, not just happiness. People want a sense of richness, depth, purpose, direction, contribution, freedom and joy in their lives. What's amazing is that in every state of "unhappiness", nearly 100% of the time people know what it is that is making them unhappy. And they KNOW what they need to change in order to become more fulfilled in their lives.
HAPPINESS ISN'T THE ISSUE.
The issue then may not actually be happiness or unhappiness. The issue really becomes about the courage and willingness to do what it takes to make yourself and your life "happy". The feeling of living a miserable life arises when we are too afraid to acknowledge or own what we need to change. The feeling of boredom, dried up, I-don't-even-know-where-to-begin, emerges when we are living out of alignment with our truest nature. The fear of changing the status quo keeps us stuck in our misery; in our small, old, habitual way of the familiar, yet suffocating "comfort" zone.
In our society, we are terrified of disappointing others, we are terrified of the unknown and of rocking the boat. It is the loyalty to this fear that keeps people stuck, miserable and playing small. It is your lack of courage to change that is making you feel "unhappy". To be truly fulfilled in your life, you must allow yourself the sheer pleasure, the gift and the responsibility of structuring your life so that it is in alignment with your most authentic truth inside. If you are someone who needs space in your calendar to be creative and thrives when you experience collaboration and variety, then most likely you will be unfulfilled in an administrative job that requires you to work rigid hours. If you are someone who loves to talk about current world affairs and marvels at the rich experiences of your life, then most likely you will be unfulfilled at a dinner party where people are focused on fashion and reality TV. If you are someone whose truest nature is to be visionary, inspired and playfully express yourself, then most likely you will be unfulfilled in a romantic relationship where your partner is threatened or uncomfortable with you in the spot light. You can begin to see where living out of alignment with your truth is actually the thing causing your unhappiness. Under different circumstances that reflected and celebrated your truest needs and authentic nature, I'd be willing to bet that you'd be radiantly HAPPY. Our true nature is happy... and it's simple. We allow fear, assumptions, worry and lack of trust to overcomplicate things for us.
FINDING THE COURAGE TO CHANGE.
So how do we obtain and strengthen the courage to change? Here are 5 key steps that will help you muster up the courage to change things in honor of living your most radiantly juicy and deeply fulfilling life:
1. Acknowledge your dream. I have a question for you: What do you OWE to yourself? What will you regret at the end of your life if you do not make it happen? What is the dream inside of you that you have buried so far down below that you can't remember what it even is? If you want to have the courage to create more happiness, then you need to be willing to look under the bed, dust off the boxes and take your dream out once again. You need to put that dream in the light and tend to it daily, watering it with your loyalty and intention, caring for it by making it a priority once again. The first step to finding the courage to change is admitting that you actually desire happiness and to clarify what that looks like for you. You will not be able to develop the courage to change if you're not willing to admit that you want something different than what you've got now. You must let your dream live. Let it shine!
2. Make your dream more important than your fear. Are you going to feed your desire for happiness or feed your fears? Are you going to prioritize your dream life or prioritize your sense of obligation to others? If you are not living your dream than you are living someone else's, and in all likelihood, that's keeping you miserable. So you're at a moment of choice: you can choose to stay stuck, stay small, stay co-dependent, stay worried or you can choose to honor this amazingly radiant, loving and authentic truth and knowing within you. You can choose to let your fear drive the bus of your life or you can step into the driver's seat yourself. It's your life and it becomes whatever you choose to make of it, so the choice is yours. The time is now to choose a new direction of loyalty to your happiness. No more loyalty to your fear and tiny comfort zone.
3. Step into Radical Responsibility. As Katherine Woodward Thomas says, "Life happens through us, not to us". You are not a passive victim in your life. In order to live the life that you truly desire, you must be willing to accept Radical Responsibility for your circumstances and all aspects of your life. Our outer world is a reflection of our inner landscape. If you are focused on what's not working then not much will work for you. If you are tending to your happiness and taking responsibility to change yourself then change and happiness will happen. The good news is that taking radical responsibility puts you in a wonderfully empowered position. Own the fact that YOU are the one who will change your life and you'll be much more excited to jump in and do so.
4. Be willing to say NO. One of the biggest roadblocks that people have when trying to create a truly fulfilling and rewarding life is their fear of disappointing others. I'm going to give it to you straight: I guarantee that you will disappoint at least one person in your life by choosing to walk down the path of YOUR truth and happiness. AND... that's a really great thing! It means that you're beginning to honor what's true for you instead of just going along with others or with whatever is presented to you. It means you're starting to be intentional and give energy to those things and people that light you up instead of pull you down. When you say NO to one thing, you say YES to something else by default. (You can read my full blog article about that HERE). So let yourself say NO. Say NO to the job that is sucking you dry. Say NO to the relationship that isn't what you actually want. Say NO to the incredibly lucrative, sexy, potentially delicious opportunity that is being offered to you but doesn't feel right somewhere inside. This will fill your courage tanks to FULL. I promise you that you'll be OK (actually, I bet you'll be more than OK - you'll be HAPPY) after you enforce boundaries with others and choose instead to follow the energy of your YES. I promise you that you'll be happier by taking the risk of leaving behind what so clearly isn't working for you. Let yourself step into happiness by practicing saying NO to all that isn't working for you.
5. Shift your perspective about the unknown. Many people in our society are more comfortable when there is a plan and when the future is "secure". I am guilty of this myself at times. The unknown can be a wildly scary land to explore and yet, it's the only guarantee we have as we cannot predict the future. Thank goodness we cannot predict our future - can you imagine how boring life would be without any mystery at all? I invite you to embrace the unknown and instead of seeing it as a daunting, threatening thing, start to view it as a yummy, juicy place where you can anticipate and taste your happiness growing and growing. The whole point is to experience what you haven't known before because what you've known thus far hasn't been fulfilling for you (if it was, you wouldn't want more happiness). So let yourself step into the unknown with delight, curiosity, trust and yummy anticipation for all of the wonderfully new and fulfilling things you are creating. See it as a journey to the best place you've ever been.
Change is risky. There is always a risk, no matter how you slice it - leaving your current situation for hopes of a better one doesn't come with a guarantee. What you know in this moment is that you're unhappy. So I invite you to take a risk. Take that leap of faith that feels so right and tingly inside even though you're so afraid that your teeth are chattering. Take the risk of walking towards your happiness and creating a totally NEW way that is actually freaking amazing and unknown. Take the risk of allowing life to provide for you once you own your YES. The day will come when the risk of playing small is greater than the risk of shining. I invite you to seize that day, jump in with both feet and GO FOR IT! Your utterly happy dream life awaits you.