What gets in the way of our happiness?

“Envy is the ulcer of the soul,” Socrates tells us.

Today we continue our exploration of the link between gratitude and happiness and some lessons from philosopher Brian Johnson‘s module on celebrating from his Optimize program.  There will always be someone richer, funnier, better liked, more charismatic, and more successful. 

We have a choice.  We can let this fact trouble us.  Or, not.  Teddy Roosevelt tells us, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Indeed.

Happy people don’t spend much time thinking about other people, Sonja Lyubomirsky writes in her book The How of Happiness.

Or, when we do reflect on others’ success, we can take delight in it.  In his book The Science of Being Great, Wallace Wattles tells us we can choose to see their success as a confidence builder, as proof it can be done.

Another “thief of joy” is perfectionism.  Striving for excellence?  Yes.  Striving for perfection?  No.  The perfectionist’s mindset is similar – comparing our present reality with an idealized picture of the future.  We will never get there.  

Brian suggests it is wise to accept our imperfections.  We are all “perfectly imperfect.”  We can learn to accept ourselves completely.  We cultivate a deep trust in the path we are on.  We are right on schedule.  Right here.  Right now.

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden spent years developing his vision, philosophy, and belief system into a detailed strategic plan for winning.  He took 16 seasons to win his first national championship.  His teams then went on to win 10 of the next 12.

This approach is an exercise in accepting ourselves and accepting reality.  Check that: celebrating reality.  What Ryan Holiday calls “the art of acquiescence.”  Or, a love of fate.  We are grateful for everything.  Whatever happens, we say, “Perfect.”  For our successes and our tribulations.  For all that is happening.  All of it.  We don’t deny it or pretend.  As Byron Katie says, “When I argue with reality, I lose.  Only 100% of time.”

It is what is it.  Perfect.  We then ask: “Now, what am I going to do about it?”

So, what gets in the way of our happiness?  

Envy.  

Perfectionism.  

And entitlement.  Taking things for granted.  The miracle of life.  The incredible progress humankind has made.  Our country.  Our families.  Our clients.  Our friends.  Precious gifts, all.

Which is why keeping a regular gratitude journal is so impactful.  We all have so many things for which to be grateful.  Being intentional, setting aside a few minutes a day to focus on and reflect on our Blessings can and will change our lives.  
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Reflection: Which negative mindset gets most in my way: envy, perfectionism, or entitlement?   

Action:  Commit to keeping a gratitude journal for 100 days starting today.  

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