You and I- we live different lives. That’s just how life is meant to be. We all combat different challenges and trials in life because we all live with a different mix of good and not-so-good life circumstances. Even though we usually have a lot of good in our lives, we tend to focus on our crappy job, financial burdens, lack of boyfriends and girlfriends, etc. This causes us to feel stuck. We feel we cannot be as happy or successful as we want because of our life circumstances.
What we forget is that we ALL have various talents, weaknesses, trials, and blessings! If we get stuck constantly comparing our circumstances to that of others, we will prevent our own happiness! I’m here to tell you that no matter how hard your life is, you can learn to overcome your circumstances and create your own happiness. You can get out of the negative rut we often get stuck in, change your mindset, work hard, and see your happiness unfold.
1. Get out of The Negative Rut
Sometimes, we get stuck into the thinking that goes along the lines of , “If only I had ____________ (blank), I would be so much happier”, or “If I had_____, I would be so successful. I would have anything I could ever want” or even “If only I had ______, I wouldn’t have any problems any more”. If you have ever had thoughts like these, you are not alone.
A lot of us get stuck in this rut. Like I said before, we often feel envious of what other people have, and we think that if things were just a little different in life, we could be happy.
But, you may be surprised to learn that our life circumstances have been proven to only make up 10% of our happiness, according to positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky. In fact, even when people’s circumstances DO change, their happiness doesn’t necessarily change that much. Because we always want more to be happy.
*As a note, there are a couple exceptions to this. Circumstances only affect 10% of our happiness, UNLESS our basic needs aren’t being met. If our basic needs aren’t being met, change in circumstance CAN affect our happiness more than 10%*
What Are Circumstances Anyway?
Circumstances include our physical environment, social environment, income and employment, community wellbeing, and education (scottpho.org.uk). It can be pretty hard to believe that circumstances only make up 10% of our happiness, but the more you think about it, the more sense it makes. And after some personal study and research, including taking a whole positive psychology course, I fully agree with Sonja’s findings.
You think you want more money?
For example, many people hate their job but are willing to stay in it in anticipation of an upcoming raise. They think, I will be happier when I have more money. What usually tends to happen in this kind of situation is, people get the raise and are more motivated and happy for just a little while. But, as all the rest of the circumstances stay the same, they slowly experience what is called hedonic adaptation, and get used to their new circumstances again. Their happiness level eventually goes right back to where it was before they got the raise, and they go right back to thinking, “If only I had more money…” I know I have definitely experienced this phenomenon. Have you? (A note about this is that a raise can actually raise your happiness if it gets you out of poverty, but for the most part, this example is true).
My Personal Experience With The Happiest People
I feel like I really came to understand how circumstances only make up a small portion of our happiness when I travelled to Ghana with Zach and my mother and father in law, Steph and Jeff. We went to visit many people who were some of the kindest, happiest people I have ever met, but who have also experienced more trials than I ever have! When I was there I thought, these people have very little money, but are happy! They have very few possessions, but are happy. They work long and hard, and are still happy. Their electricity gets turned off every 12 hours, but they are happy!
HOW CAN THIS BE?
2. Change Your Mindset
Well, it’s because circumstances don’t create our happiness. We do! In fact, to finish up the happiness equation, Sonja Lyubomirsky found 50% of our happiness level is determined by our genetic predisposition, and a WHOPPING 40% is made up by our MINDSET. (Learn more about these happiness myths and statistics here!) Our mindset changes EVERYTHING. While genetics and circumstances definitely play a role in our happiness, the determining factor that makes the difference that we can CONTROL, is our mindset!
So, instead of constantly wishing you had more, start being grateful for what you have NOW! Live in the moment! Seriously, count all the amazing blessings you have in your life and start being happy with where you are NOW. Then, when you are in a state of being grateful for what you have, work to improve your life one step at a time. I like to come at change from the mindset of, "I have a great life right now, and I would like to continue to learn and grow and make more opportunities for myself, so here is what I want to change, and this is how I will do it".
3. Work for Your Better Life
Instead of just going everything magically changes, we have to work, we have to try, and we have to think positively about our life to make a change. We can’t just expect things to change by themselves. That just doesn’t happen. But, we can create strength within ourselves to overcome the things we believe are holding us back.
For example, some may think, “I don’t have enough money to go to college”. Well, CREATE a way for yourself. Work really hard in school, make friendships and relationships with people who can teach you and help you, reach out to scholarship organizations, take free classes online, consider going to a community college first, getting some experience and THEN apply for a four year. Work and save your money wisely. Sell things, take side jobs, and MAKE the experience possible. Do whatever you have to, but DON’T sit there and think it’s impossible because it’s not.
Others may think, “I don’t have the money or time to start a business”. Again I say, CREATE a way for yourself. Connect yourself with local businesses, online groups, organizations, business bureaus, etc to find people who can teach you, help you, and invest in you! Find ways to build your credit to get a loan, eat out less, save your money more, and work with a purpose. Get up early stay up late, and work on your business at lunch if you have to. Say, “I will start this business, and I will find the money and time to do it.”
It really is all up to you!
I am not saying overcoming your circumstances is easy, but is it possible. Your circumstances are not holding you back from your happiness. You are. You can create your happiness today. You can get out of the negative rut, think positively, work hard and make a happy life for yourself. What is one circumstance you want to change and are willing to work on this week?
Let me know in the comments! See you next post!
If you liked this post, you may also like "11 Ways To Conquer a Negative Mindset" !!