How to Find True and Lasting Happiness (Really!)

Recently I came across a new mindset tool that I just love. It’s basically a happiness exercise, where at the end of the day, you recap what you’re happy about. But what I love about this one is that it takes it a step further, by asking “Why did that happen?” about each thing.

What I found while I was doing this, is that even such a simple question can have this global effect of changing how you see things. Suddenly, I saw my life in a more cumulative light, not just isolated events happening one day but not another. Something you did yesterday, or last week, or even years ago, can contribute to one moment of happiness today.

The first time I tried this was after I got confirmation that I’d booked this one particular speaking gig. I really wanted to do this, but it just seemed like it wasn’t going to happen—then it was, then it wasn’t, then it was again. Then, a couple weeks ago, it became official—success! So I was thrilled about that. But then I looked at, well, why did this happen?

In this particular case, it was because I tried a LOT of different approaches. I didn’t give up when it seemed like it was falling apart the first time. I sent emails, I gave different perspectives, I explained why I thought my program was fantastic for them, I even went and did a live demo. I really went the extra mile. Then, ultimately, I let it go—I said, “I believe this is a great fit. But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, and I’ve given it my best shot.”

And then, I got it.

What a great lesson in going the extra mile! That was what made my happiness deeper and more fulfilling that day, not just booking the gig.

The second time, it was even more powerful—when my son, Ty, gave me a big bear hug and said, “I love you, Mom. You’re the best mom in the world.”

Now, any mother will tell you, that will just fill up your heart and soul and get you through the most sleepless of nights. And that alone would have been enough. But when I looked at it and thought, “Why did that happen?” I realized it was a couple things: one, it was the accumulation of years of building a strong, loving relationship with my son.

But also, it was because that day, I’d focused entirely on him. I’d put down my computer and phone, so I wasn’t distracted by 10,000 things. I let it be about him. I listened to him, I played with him—I even played a video game, which is my least favorite thing to do. We talked. It was really fun! And he felt it too, so much that he would burst out and say that.

Giving somebody the kind of time and attention they really deserve, and seeing how that love builds and grows over time—that will fill you up. And recognizing it will give you another thing to celebrate.

What I got from this exercise was this: you can have one level of happiness by just reflecting on what you made you happy that day. But you get a whole other level of happiness, and pride, and appreciation, and awareness—simply by asking, “Why did it happen?”

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