Have you ever reached a big, long-term goal, got it in the bag, but still felt a bit empty?
Maybe you got that promotion, or you finally went on that dreamt of holiday.
But it didn’t fill you up the way you thought it would.
Sure you felt good for a few hours, maybe a couple of days, but then the feeling just… disappeared.
And you were left asking yourself, is this really it? Is this the best I can hope for? Is this the best I’m ever going to feel?
You’re not alone. So many of us have been there. Including me.
I read a story the other day about a quarterback who had just won the Super Bowl. The highest accolade you can get in the sport of grid iron. He was interviewed after the game, and when he thought the camera was turned off, but it wasn’t, he was captured saying, “Is this all there is?”
In the moment of his greatest success he wasn’t saying, “OMG I’ve won the Super Bowl – yeeha!” He was saying, is there nothing more?
The reason we can find ourselves in that position is simple – we’re looking for our joy in the wrong place.
- Because you can’t control what is going on outside of you
- Because people, circumstances and things cannot give you sustained joy
For instance, if you seek happiness in the love of another or validation from a boss or peer for a job well done, you are banking your happiness on someone else acting or feeling a certain way. And there is no guarantee they will act or feel the way you want them to.
Maybe you are in business and thinking, once I hit this amount of income, that amount of clients, then I will be happy. That kind of thinking keeps putting off your happiness, and assumes an object or numbers on a spreadsheet are where happiness lies.
If you seek joy this way you are allowing your feelings to be determined by something you cannot control. Which means you have no real power over how often you feel joy, peace, contentment, fulfilment and all those other gorgeous feelings that we seek daily.
Even if you do get the response or outcome you want, how long do those feelings last? Maybe a few hours. Perhaps a day or two if you’re lucky. But it will be short. Because once that person has said what you wanted or behaved in the way you wanted, or the shine of that new house, car, milestone has worn off, then what? We all want to feel good, but doing it this way is not sustainable, and often it is exhausting looking for the next fix.
So, the answer?
Which means you are in control of how you feel, not other people or outside circumstances.
If you’re feeling inspired to take control of your own feelgood factor, I’ve got a few suggestions you can try below.
Be your own cheerleader.
If you are waiting for someone else to say nice words to you about how you look, how well you did on a project, how well your business is doing, stop waiting. Go to a mirror, look at yourself and say exactly what you want to hear. It may feel a little weird at first, and like it is boastful or big-headed, but it’s not. You need to be able to appreciate your own brilliance. Trust me, you will get the hang of it, and when you feel that little kernel of joy start to sprout in your heart at your own words – it will grow your feelings even more.
Look for the good stuff.
Essentially this is a gratitude practice. If you’re saying to yourself, is this it, it’s because you are disconnected from your positive feelings. So sit, and either in your head or in a journal, slowly list all the amazing things you have to be grateful for within your situation. But follow each thing with the question “Why am I grateful for it?” It will help you connect with the feeling. For instance, I am grateful for my new, lightweight laptop, because it allows me to experience freedom in my business and work anywhere. (Like Australia, where I am right now.)
Savour the small things.
It’s important to know what you want in life and go for those big, long-term goals, but don’t put off experiencing joy until you reach them. Look for it every day. Put a reminder on your phone that says, “What am I grateful for right now?”. For me, small stuff that makes me happy are things like a good coffee in a cafe; having a laugh with a friend; exercising outdoors; listening to my favourite music; eating a delicious meal; writing in my journal. They are all everyday things that keep my inner fires burning. What small things do you get the most enjoyment out of?
Which one of these tips resonated the most? I’d love to hear how you’re going to implement them in the comments below.
If you’re interested in building your own toolbox of tips and techniques to grow your own joy, take a look at how I help people do that over here.
Until next time,
PS. Like what you read and found it a teensy bit useful? Then sign up below to get my regular Everyday Joy Missives in your inbox.
PPS. I’m very proud to have been featured in this month’s Psychologies magazine – if you’d like check out what I had to say about joy and happiness, it’s out now (actress Emma Stone is on the cover).