Are you looking for a magical solution to happiness? Do you think, if you just had the right job, dated the right person, or had the right amount of money, your life would be so much better?
What do you think makes you truly happy? Your career? Your talent? Doing something creative?
Many of you are seeking magical solutions to a very objective problem. The answer isn’t in a new job, a better boss, a bigger house, or another tangible item. It’s not about losing weight, writing a novel, or running a marathon. It’s not even about achieving your big goals.
The real answer to happiness and the magic solution to life’s problems isn’t in finding an answer or way to ‘fix” our problems. The magical solution is within each of us, right now, today.
I had a friend who was a multi-millionaire. He was massively successful, running a Fortune 400 company. He had a massive $14,000,000 house in Aspen, which he sold right before I was about to visit. He bought an even bigger home, previously owned by Cher. He was making millions and millions of dollars per year. This guy seemed to have it all.
We’re sitting there in Cher’s mansion, talking, and he kept bringing up this woman he knew that was a former Playboy bunny. She was gorgeous. She married a very wealthy guy. He happened to have a mansion just up the hill that was just a little bigger than my friend’s place.
So there sits this wealthy guy with a private jet, magazine covers, cars, all kinds of riches. What is he fixating on? The woman he doesn’t have and the mansion he doesn’t own. All he could think was how, if he could have what the guy up the hill had, it would be a magical solution to make his life complete.
I’ve also talked to many young people who are in jobs they don’t love. I always hear, “I want a job with more excitement,” or “I want a job around people,” or, “I want a job that lets me creatively express myself.” But the truth is, no matter if we have our dream job, our dream car, our dream house, or our dream girlfriend, we won’t feel fulfilled. We have to make the meaning wherever we are.
The fact of the matter is, we’re terrible affect forecasters. What we think will make us happy, doesn’t actually make us happy. Whenever we’re wishing for something more and hoping it is the answer to our problems, we’re almost always wrong.
How many people think that marriage makes us happier? It does for about the first year and a half or so, but then the happiness levels go back to where they were before the honeymoon.
What about education? Learning is great, and college is a wonderful experience, but if education made us happy, why would so many college students be so miserable? In fact, many young people say college was one of the least happy times in their life.
I hear from people who move to Chicago from Florida or California. They always say, “I’ve got to get back to where it’s warm.” Their unhappiness is the weather’s fault. But the truth is, if they lived in Florida or California, it was too hot, traffic was terrible, and so on.
The big house isolates you. The new job creates a burst of happiness, and then you realize you’re still dealing with the same work drama from the last office. Wherever you go, nothing you do seems to satisfy you. That’s because we’re looking for magical solutions.
It’s hard to accept that the real cause of our unhappiness is us. It’s so much easier to look at a situation you can change—your job, another person in your life, your financial circumstances.
But when we’re continually looking ahead and wishing for the next great solution to our problems. We’re missing out on the happiness available to us in the here and now.
As we discuss in our More Life Training weekends, we need to understand that our meaning comes from being present in the moment. It comes from building our social and emotional intelligence, so we can recognize where we’re letting happiness escape us. Real happiness comes with full engagement in the adventure of life! It’s the willingness to be hurt. It’s the ability to put ourselves out there. It’s wanting to express our feelings, to engage and connect with others. It means learning and growing, so we become increasingly happy with who we are, and celebrate who we’re becoming.
Your mind has three spheres of consideration. You look at your present state of what’s in my life now, your pathway of the road ahead, and your ideal state of what you believe will make you satisfied and happy. Most people look for a magical solution to a problem in their present state, but they haven’t identified the most logical pathway or the ideal state toward which they are going. They confuse the ideal state with the reason why they want something done. The ideal state is actually an abstraction that informs the pathways to pick.
There’s something they teach us in meditation and yoga called our monkey mind. Our mind and line of thinking generally aren’t linear. It speeds up. It jumps around. Some of us act like it’s linear, and we identify those people as having an Analyzer personality type. Others line of thinking is clearly circular, and we call them Energizers. Some of us are covertly circular in our thinking, which is the Regulator personality type, and others are living in everyone else’s circle as Cooperators.
No matter what direction our mind tends to go, the truth is we often get in this state where our mind plays tricks on us. We have thoughts that spiral and spin and don’t have directionality. What we have to learn how to do is to harness your mind and get to a present state. To do this, we must identify what we’re feeling. What is our present state, and what is our ideal state? What is our real purpose?
When we haven’t identified our purpose that goes toward our ideal state, we may find we spin our wheels but never really move forward.
If you’re unhappy at work, what is the foundation? Are you afraid that you are going to lose your job? But if you’re not happy, why are you afraid of losing it?
If you’re unfulfilled in your relationships, what is causing that feeling? Are you closing yourself off to the truth, or missing out on the intimacy of honesty? Are you waiting for your partner to “make” you happy, instead of realizing you are responsible for your satisfaction?
Our purpose truly brings us toward an ideal state, not just in our own lives, but as part of the world around us. We want a world that works for everyone—healthcare, education, sustenance, infrastructure that supports the most loving, sustainable life on the planet. When you look at the world in the present state, you see everyone has their pathways, but very few people think of an ideal state that’s not reactive but is creative instead.
Two-thirds of humanity spend their lives avoiding losing things, rather than working toward gaining what they want. Depending on the statistics, that number can go as high as 85%. This phenomenon is called loss aversion. Your present state is that you’re afraid of losing your job. The way past the fear is to either have the worst-case occur or to get past it.
We can treat it like weightlifting. Each time you workout, you get a little stronger and stronger. You’re moving in a gradual plan toward your ideal state. This might mean starting to ask questions of your boss. It might mean speaking up in meetings. Do what you can do to become a collaborator whose opinion is valued. Figure out ways to find the meaning in your work, rather than expecting your work to hand you the meaning.
Rather than seeking a magical solution to our problems, we can start to discover that the solution is really within us. It’s not magic. It’s simple. We stop relying on what we “think” will bring us happiness, or what’s easy and safe. Instead, we work on finding fulfillment and purpose in our present state.
For more on discovering satisfaction and fulfillment, please visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming More Life Training, where you’ll connect with others on their transformational journey. Don’t miss our special downloadable courses available now at a special introductory price.
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.