“Money may not buy you happiness but happiness can help you get rich.” - Jim Loehr, author of Power of Full Engagement
Do you sometimes feel like you should be happier?
From the outside you’re the picture of success, but on the inside you feel miserable, with happiness just out of reach.
You used to think that success would bring contentment, but now you’re filled with doubt.
Well, let’s change that. The following are some answers to why you are not happier even when everything in your life is running smoothly.
1. You’ve been sold someone else’s idea of happiness
• Do you already have a good car and want an even better one?
• Have you been thinking about joining an exclusive club?
• Have you been thinking about getting a more expensive house even though the one you have is perfectly fine?
• Do you have a great partner but you can’t stop criticizing all of their little flaws?
You likely want more because you’ve bought into Madison Avenue and Hollywood images of success, happiness and perfection.
Unfortunately, the goal of Madison Avenue and Hollywood movies is to sell the hope of happiness so that you open your wallet and buy.
Solution: Don’t be seduced by advertising and movie images of the good life. If you are not happy in the now, you need to discover the real reasons why you are not as happy as you want to be — before you acquire more money, status and stuff — and work to uncover what will make you feel good about yourself now.
2. You’re acting like you’re still in high school
• Do you ever compare yourself to the Joneses?
• Are you ever seduced into getting the fancier car, house or partner just because your peers did?
Wanting to keep up with the Joneses and feel like you are a member of the tribe is normal because love and belonging are hard-wired human needs.
You want to feel like you are part of the in-crowd; adult life is a grown-up version of high school after all. The only difference is that the characters have wrinkles, gray hair and a few extra pounds.
If everyone else is accumulating more and more, you feel pressured to keep up. If you don’t keep up, it can remind you of memories of rejection and humiliation from school. That’s one of the reasons why you feel the need to keep up with the Joneses.
Solution: Find a new tribe that’s not as focused on materialistic things and are more focused on making a difference in the world. Stop thinking about yourself, give back to the community and find a cause you are passionate about.
3. You have no clue how to connect deeply with people
• Do you feel lonely despite having lots of Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections and community acquaintances?
• Are you dying to have real friends you can share your deepest thoughts, feelings and fears with?
Realistically, most of your peers feel as lonely as you and they crave real heart-to-heart connections too. They are just waiting for someone else to start the vulnerable conversations.
Solution: Get together for coffee or lunch with an acquaintance you’ve always wanted to know better. Look for an opening to share your deepest thoughts. Ask questions such as, “What makes you happy? What are you afraid of? What are your goals? Why are these goals important to you?”
4. Your past demons are driving you
• Growing up, did anyone ever make you feel you were not enough?
• Do you feel like you are trying to prove something to someone?
Who are you trying to prove your worth to?
• Your mother?
• Your father?
• Your sister or brother?
• The bullies on the playground?
• The teacher that humiliated you?
Through your drive for success, you may be subconsciously trying to show them that you are enough and that you are somebody important. That’s because the #1 desire of human beings is…
… to be validated.
To feel that you are perfect just the way you are.
To feel worthy.
To feel good enough.
You may be unconsciously driven to accumulate more money, more status and more stuff in the name of showing those who have hurt you that, “Look, I’m enough, I’m somebody important.”
Solution: Understand where your drive for success comes from. If it comes from a part of you that feels like you are not enough, you can update that part with what you have accomplished and let it know that you are enough. When this part finally realized that you have been successful, it will give you permission to slow down and smell the roses.
5. You’re in emotional jail
Are you afraid of feeling like a wimp if you admit you need help?
The stigma attached to seeking professional help to improve emotional states prevents many from seeking help. “I’m not a wimp; I can deal with this.” So you deal with it by going along with Madison Avenue’s definition of happiness — buy more stuff. Or you deal with it by drinking too much or eating too much and numbing your true feelings.
But you’re only hurting yourself if you do this. When you fail to deal with your emotions, they can blow up as anger, irritability, anxiety, rage, hostility, depression, and numbness. And not dealing with your emotions can cause health issues such as cancer, heart disease, thyroid problems, obesity, and autoimmune diseases, and wreck your relationships and hold you back from living to your potential.
Solution: If you cannot cope with life and are severely depressed or addicted, please seek the help of a licensed mental health provider so you can go from dead to good. If you are psychologically stable and you want to go from good to great, a coach may be the better option for you.
Talk to a trusted friend or your doctor. Share what’s going on. They should know a coach, healer or therapist you can talk to.
6. Your addictions keep you stuck in misery
• Are you guilty of working, drinking, eating, gambling, shopping, or exercising too much?
• Do you ever feel angry, irritable, sad, anxious, depressed, or numb?
• Are you a perfectionist?
These addictions and feelings are more than likely protective mechanisms to help you avoid old painful memories and feelings of humiliation, rejection, unworthiness, and abandonment.
Could you also be hurting your partner, kids, parents, siblings, peers, or employees as a result of these addictions and feelings?
Solution: Find a coach or counselor that can help you get to the bottom of why you are miserably stuck in these less than desirable behaviors and feelings.
7. You believe happiness is always one more goal away
• “If I just make more money, I’ll be happy.”
• “If I just buy my dream home, I’ll be happy.”
• “If I just get a hot and sexy partner, I’ll be happy.”
• “If I just get rid of the last 15 pounds, I’ll be happy.”
You are fooling yourself if you keep thinking that the next monetary, status or material possession will finally be the ticket to joy.
You’ll get high temporarily and then go back to your old miserable state shortly thereafter. Then you’ll convince yourself that the goal wasn’t big enough. The next goal will finally be the golden ticket.
The Law of Paradoxical Intention says, “You must have goals, but your happiness cannot be tied to those goals. You must be happy first before you reach your goals.”
This means if you want something so badly, that wanting creates a negative vibration and so the Universe will give you the opposite of what you want. So if you think you will be happy as a result of reaching a goal, this law says you won’t get it because you’re trying too hard.
Solution: If you are not happy now on the journey to achieving your goals, look inward and ask yourself what events from the past are keeping you stuck from happiness today? Why do you need something outside of yourself to be happy?
8. You don’t love yourself unconditionally
“I love you so much … you are perfect just the way you are!” Can you look in the mirror and say this?
If you can’t love yourself, just know that this is a major root cause of misery for many.
Psychologist & Life Coach Wayne Dyer said:
“You will not attract into your life what you want, you will attract what you are.”
What you are is a function of what’s in your subconscious. Your subconscious is 90% responsible for what you attract into your life.
If your subconscious is full of negative chatter such as, “I’m a loser, I’m fat, I’ll never be as good as my brother”, these negative thoughts will emit negative energy.
Negative energy sucks the life out of people, and others will avoid you like the plague and you’ll end up alone and miserable in your old age, even if you have all the material trappings of success.
When you love yourself, the inner chatter will be positive and you will be happier. When you are happy, others will be drawn to you like bees to honey. Nothing is sexier than exuding unconditional self-love and confidence in a non-narcissistic way.
So how do you get rid of negative chatter and negative core beliefs such as, “I’m not lovable, I’m not worthy and I’m not enough,” so you can show up happy and sexy?
By accessing and healing negative memories at their source. These memories can be as minor as the bully that called you stupid or as major as emotional and physical abuse from caregivers.
Take yourself back into the painful memories and access those parts of you that hold feelings of shame, rejection, and worthlessness. These are the parts that hold you back from joy.
Tell those parts that you love them unconditionally. This is self-led re-parenting. When they feel love from you, they will delete the faulty beliefs they acquired from bad experiences and these parts will help you feel happy now because they no longer feel ashamed, rejected or worthless.
You can watch self-led re-parenting in the movies. The last 20 minutes of the movie The Kid with Bruce Willis demonstrates what I outlined above. The character played by Bruce Willis spent his whole life trying to forget his bad memories. Then his 8-year-old self shows up and Bruce heals that young part of himself through self-led re-parenting. He went back into the traumatic memories with his 8-year-old part and was able to give his younger part the love he needed that he never got when the original negative experiences occurred.
If you are still miserable despite your successes, more than likely the burdens of the past are what make you feel like crap even though nothing seems to be wrong.
If you keep trying to push down old toxic memories, they will inevitably come back to haunt you and hold you back from authentic happiness (kind of like trying to make a beach ball disappear underwater).
When you feel good about yourself from the inside out, more money, status and stuff can be the icing on the happiness cake.
Are you happy now on the journey of living to your potential and making a difference? If not, what is keeping you stuck from being happy?