The key to happiness isn’t about the external world. The key to true happiness is to maintain inner peace and balance despite what’s happening in the external world around you.
When you can master a mindset of inner balance and live from a place of alignment with your most authentic self, the external stuff doesn’t matter. You’re no longer living in reaction mode – responding to outside stimuli and letting your thoughts be controlled by emotion. Instead, you’re living in collaboration with the universe. You’re proactively creating your environment by choosing how you want to see the world around you.
Here are a couple of scenarios to demonstrate what I’m talking about here.
- You wake up suddenly to the sound of your alarm. You’re groggy, so you push snooze a couple of times… until you realize that you’re going to be late, so you rush out of bed and hurry to get ready on time.
- You forget to make breakfast.
- You spill coffee on your shirt. Have to go upstairs to change. Now you’re another two more minutes late.
- You hit all red lights on your drive to work. You slam your breaks each time and curse the stop light gods for your crappy luck.
- You *finally* arrive at the office. Your coworkers seem cranky and reserved. You greet them briefly but immediately get into the zone – you’re catching up on emails, listening to voicemails, and looking at how busy your calendar already is for the week (and it’s only Monday!).
- You feel a deep sense of urgency and anxiety surrounding everything that’s on your to-do list for the day. You’re already behind, and it’s not even 9 am.
- Your boss asks you why you’re behind on a deadline. You nervously respond that you’re working on it and should be wrapped up today. Mentally, you beat yourself up for not getting the project done on time and start thinking about all the other times you’ve screwed up or made mistakes on the job. You start belittling yourself and feel guilty, embarrassed, and inadequate.
- You feel behind all day long, especially now that this project is back on the top of your priority list. People come to you for help and you push them aside because you’ve got more important things to do. A coworker seems distant, but you’re too busy to ask her if something’s going on outside of work. No time for that today.
- You take a rushed lunch break because you’re so behind. You buy a coffee to keep your focus through the afternoon. You make a short phone call and check your Facebook notifications. You speed back into the office. You feel agitated and restless.
- You go home with barely enough energy to make dinner. You heat up a frozen microwave dinner and plop yourself down on the couch to watch several hours of TV.
- You make your way to bed, exhausted. You think about what a draining day you had, and hope that maybe tomorrow will be better.
- You wake up before your alarm, to the sun shining in through your window and the sound of birds chirping outside. You slowly get out of bed and spend 15-30 minutes meditating, sitting in silence.
- You make a green smoothie and sip it while you get ready for your day.
- You check your personal emails and are able to read a few inspiring e-newsletters that are waiting for you in your inbox. You feel uplifted and stimulated.
- You make yourself a cup of coffee and head out for the day, feeling appreciative of the time you had this morning to yourself in order to start off your day on a good note.
- You hit all red lights on your drive to work, which gives you more time to blast your favorite songs on the radio and dance in your seat like a crazy person. The person next to you laughs at you as he drives by. You don’t mind at all.
- You arrive at the office. Your coworkers seem cranky and reserved. You greet them and ask how their weekends were. You compliment one of them as you notice they got a new haircut. You remember to ask another about her husband’s birthday party. You feel connected and at ease.
- You pull up your calendar for the week and are surprised at how booked it already is, but appreciate the fact that your days are going to fly by, and before you know it you’ll be out of the office and free to do what you please. You feel prepped and ready to take on this week and to make the most of your time while you’re at the office.
- Your boss asks why you’re behind on a deadline. You explain to her that you’ve done the best you could, but that you’ll focus on the project first thing today. You don’t judge yourself or beat yourself up for it, because you know that you’re trying. You explain to her that you respect timelines and will do what you can to make this project turnaround more quickly. She then offers if you need help, which you thankfully accept. Between the two of you, the project will be done before the day’s end.
- You take an hour lunch to sit outside and read, catch up on personal emails, and to simply enjoy the beautiful weather. You go back into the office after feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and are able to have a fully productive afternoon.
- You go home feeling accomplished and satisfied with the day’s work. You go for a run around your neighborhood and watch the sunset, feeling connected to nature and at peace with the world around you.
- You spend an evening at home cooking a nice meal, reading, and doing things that make you feel “in flow” – present and in the moment.
- You make your way to bed, feeling fulfilled and peaceful. You are thankful for the day and all that it brought to your attention. You are grateful to be able to experience this life, and you fall asleep feeling happy and joyful.
When you experience inner clarity on who you really are, you can start to build awareness around your inner state. Are you simply reacting to things that happen around you (alarm clocks, red lights, inquisitive bosses, etc.)? Are you allowing the external environment to affect your feelings, emotions, and beliefs? Or are you able to adjust your mindset to be more grounded in who you are – a conscious, nonjudgmental observer of the world around you – and take life as it comes? Are you able to see beauty in everyday situations? Are you able to appreciate all that you have in this moment?