Happiness and success are the most written about self-help subjects in our social media, yet if you ask the average person what they would most like to achieve in life, you will find that happiness and success are still at or near the top of everyone’s list.
What this tells me is that most people have not yet found a way to be happy, nor do they feel particularly successful.
For example, I will never forget the day that John walked into my counseling office and stated he wasn’t happy. He made it clear that he expected me to fix the problem within a couple of sessions.
I thought about it for a few moments, and then I said “No problem”.
“All we have to do is figure out why your unhappy, figure out the purpose of your life……what it is you came here to do, and then get a few new habits started.”
Most people teaching about happiness and success assume they are talking to another adult. In reality, they are actually talking to the unconscious inner-child psyche of the person they are trying to help…..the part that is impatient, self-focused, easily distracted, prefers to play rather than work, and of course, the part that assumes that their unhappiness is someone else’s fault.
John was no exception.
He was convinced that his unhappiness was being caused by his boss, his wife and his pushy next door neighbor. He was anxious and impatient.
I simply listened.
I knew that a successful journey toward happiness and success for John had to begin by getting his “adult” consciousness in control of his life and fully engaged in the process.
I explained to him that without a clear understanding of our life purpose, a job might be “interesting” but until we unleash the creative passion that comes from discovering our life purpose, even the most “interesting” job will soon become boring and routine…..regardless of the personality of the boss.
We began by having John put together a list of every experience in his life that had given him pleasure……all the experiences that were positive fun memories.
We began to explore what it was that made each of those experiences fun and interesting. We kept drilling down into each part of those experiences and repeating the question “What was it that made that it fun”?
I asked him to be sure to write down each of his answers.
Over time, John’s list began to yield interesting insights and clues as to the nature or direction of his life purpose. Even in childhood, John’s love was, and had always been, back country survival camping and fly fishing.
His mood and energy began to improve.
Knowing that the “adult” in him needed to take responsibility and establish some healthy habits and disciplines to provide structure in his life to achieve the new life goals that were beginning to emerge, we shifted gears and began to explore his day to day routines. Happiness and success would remain elusive until he could learn to structure his time each day more effectively.
So I taught him the habit getting the big rocks, the things that were truly important to him into his jar before he got distracted each day. Otherwise his jar would get filled with sand, small rocks, and water each day and there would never be room for the big rocks…the passionate rocks of his life purpose.
Knowing that it would be difficult for John to maintain a consistent focus on his goals until they had become habits, I encouraged him to start writing down his goals and paste the list onto his bathroom mirror so he could “read them while he was brushing his teeth each morning.”
John spent considerably longer in counseling than he had planned, but he has discovered his passion. Instead of going into an accounting office, with the help of his wife, he is now using his skills and training to build his own back country fly fishing guide business. His business is growing, and most importantly, he loves going “off to” work every day.
His discovered that his wife and the next door neighbor were not “the problem” he had previously thought. Even his old boss turned out to be supportive by allowing John a flexible work schedule until his business got established.
The three most important habits of success and happiness are now a part of his life. He is actively working on his life purpose or passion, he writes his goals down, and his big rocks get into his jar early every day.
He drops me a line from time to time and still good naturedly insists that I should have just told him what to do instead of making him figure it out for himself.
I remind him that he still needs to work on that issue.