Today, I get asked all the time from people around the world how to create happiness. When I say, "Happiness", I don't mean that temporary giddy feeling you get for a day or for just long enough to take an Instagram photo. I mean, fulfillment in your core—being truly satisfied with who you are and what you have.
So many people go on social media and post their best selves, too embarrassed to reveal how miserable they feel. I'm here to tell you that you are not alone.
Today, I'm going to give you three pieces of advice that I learned the hard way after years of finding myself—three things that transformed my life:
1) Live in the present.
If you're always worried about the future, it's going to build anxiety. There are things out of your control.
If you're always focused on the past, you're going to feel a lot of guilt. There will be things you regret.
But in the present, you can control what you do right now. What steals happiness the most is dwelling on what you cannot control. It doesn't have to be that way. Love the moment you're in.
Maybe you're worried about your job or your relationships, money, or health.
Whatever it is, just focus on what you (not other people can do) right now to put yourself in as good a situation as possible.
Like when you're working out in the gym. Thinking about paying rent in the middle of a bench press isn't going to help you exert all the effort you need to in order to successfully raise the bar. Get in the zone.
Don't confuse planning with worrying about the future.
People who plan are actually thinking in the present. They're planning for the future but focusing on what they can do right now so that their future can be better and more meaningful.
2) Focus on what you can control, not what you can't.
Let's say you're like me managing an event like Ecom 2020 Austin. Don't worry if something went wrong in a past version of the event or what may happen beyond your control. Just focus on what you need to do right now. I can't control the repercussions of something like COVID-19, but I can control how I react to it. And guess what. We transformed Ecom into something even better.
My favorite illustration of getting caught up in what you can't control is when Amazon sellers focus on reviews.
If all you focus on are the reviews of the products you sell, all you'll do is lose sleep, joy, get discouraged, and get angry at the wrong people. But if you instead work on what you can control like the listing title, images, answers to questions, and the actual product you build, then the reviews will take care of themselves.
When you focus on what you can control, it makes you a more powerful person.
There were many years of my marriage, where I tried to control the people around me including my wife. It brought us to the edge of divorce. I didn't need to live that way. In fact, it's a sign of weakness when you try to control people. However, what you can do is influence people.
There's a huge difference.
When you try to control people, it doesn't work. It doesn't affect their decision making.
When you influence people, it can work. It requires tact, wisdom, patience, grace, and the ability to put a mirror up to others.
I know the situation where you have a family member or someone important to you saying hurtful things. Let it go like a cloud drifting in the sky. Notice it, don't ignore it, and let it go. Whatever it is, if you can't change it, let it be.
3) Live with gratitude.
I bet if I asked you to list everything you're thankful for, you could list over a hundred things. Even small things—like how great it is to taste food, how we live a world of awesome electronics, that air travel is possible! We are warm, breathing, and living on this beautiful Earth!
You have so much to be thankful for.
I know when things get hard, it's tempting to think of the world as dismal and sad. That's human nature.
When I feel discouraged, I take out a journal and write a list of things that I am thankful for. Even though I don't feel thankful in the moment, I am leading my emotions instead of letting the emotions lead me.
When you become thankful, you'll see obstacles in life as opportunities to grow.
Here's an example from the last week: I had a tough, uncomfortable conversation with a staff member. There were things I had to say amidst a bunch of conflict. As a result of the conversation, his response was, "Thank you for this feedback. This is going to make us stronger."
I knew he didn't like hearing it, but he received it humbly and thanked me for saying something that most staff members would not want to hear. But the conflict was an opportunity to make us stronger.
Look at it this way: sometimes you're going to have instability in your life. Momementary instability can create long-term stability if you receive it humbly and learn from it. But if you resist, suppress, or make excuses for your situation, nothing good can happen. Most people who are not grateful, tend to complain. As a result, they will see issues in life as problems instead of opportunities. When you complain, you're giving yourself excuses to not succeed. You make it easier to not live the life of your dreams.
There's no obstacle big enough to hold you back. Go out there and live.