It Comes From Within
“…If you think you need sound bites to inspire your work, then you’re in the wrong line of work. If your work doesn’t inspire you, you owe it to yourself to search for work that does. And searching for quotes to keep your spirits up is like filling a bottomless pit with a few grains of sand. Happiness comes only from within.” Steve Tobak
Last Motivational Monday the difference between motivation and inspiration was discussed here and without belaboring the point, we return somewhat to that conversation.
It is an important one to have, better yet it is instructive to understand the difference. There are so many who equate motivation or being motivated to athletic prowess, a fit body and being strong, courageous and extroverted. They are not wrong. There is no wrong or right in this, so do not make that mistake and think the aim is to get you to not seek external activities or things to get you up on going, especially on a Monday.
Happiness: What It Is Not
Happiness, a consistent, underlying, undefinable feeling of contentment is what this is about. How do you get to or return to that state of being that children seem to always have? Well before we teach, train or thump (in the worse case scenarios) it out of them.
For most of my life, happy is not a word you would use to describe me. Had you met me back then and saw me smiling and thought I was happy then you would be have been conned into thinking that Claudette was a happy person. Closed doors, showers and my partner knew the true story.
There were moments, fleeting as they were but valuable moments when I tasted what it meant to be happy. Those lingering memories of happiness were what kept me going, searching for more. I found things, stuff and even places to visit that brought some measure of happiness – not to mention food. My house was loaded with furniture, pieces of art, pictures from trips and outings and my body carried the weight of the many delicious meals that had me ecstatic – but only for a while.
Eventually I concluded – not in a declared and published way – that long-lasting happiness is either a myth or not something that remains with you for any length of time. When the proverbial bottom fell out of my world nine years ago – the one that I had come to accept as the happiest it would ever be – I voted for the myth theory.
3 Steps To Happy
Since that time and many trips through some of the darkest valleys ever, where I met some of the unhappiest people (many with the prettiest smiles on their faces and finest things in their houses) and gazed into the mirrors they held up to me, I found out how to be happy – no matter what. Here is what I learned and what I invite you to consider:
1. Speak the truth and speak it first and loudest to yourself. If you are not happy, nothing motivates you or not for any significant time and there is a lingering feeling of emptiness deep within you, acknowledge not mask it. Stuff, people, food are masks that many use to fill the void within them, to pretend and put up a façade of joy for the world to see. Behind closed doors it is an entirely different story.
2. Stop reading, listening or asking others, including family, close friends, pastors, even my blog for direction. Only you know what will make you consistently happy. Get away from all of them, from the Internet, from this blog and get to know yourself once and for all. Go on a retreat for however long or short as necessary with pen and paper, leave the phone in the car if not at home, and get real with yourself. The only guru you truly need is the still small voice that has tried to get your attention for however long now.
3. Open a dictionary and get the definition of these two words: Integrity and Dignity. These are two of the most important words to understand and apply in a very personal way. Before you head home from your time out (Step #2), write a mission or vision statement for the rest of your life. My suggestion is that these two words are included and explained using your understanding of having personal integrity and personal dignity – not what society dictates but how you will live from now on.
Take Inspired Action, No Other Is Worth It
Acceptance, Thought/Reflection and Inspired Action – the three steps to creating a sense of meaning and purpose to your life. This past weekend, as I re-read a journal of mine from 2007, I saw some of my reflection notes and the inspired action plan that came from it. One sentence jumped out at me that, reading it again, made me think it was my turning point moment:
It is through wisdom that a tragedy becomes a teaching. Those moments are (brackets) and life goes on.
Has every day been like walking through a rose garden? Will you stumble again? Of course! What I have learned and what you will too is that happiness is a daily, sometime minutely decision, one that is easier to make when you know who you are, what you desire and have a road map to living the life you want.
On August 30, I will be hosting a webinar on – “A Practical Spirituality For The Busy Woman” – and will be covering in more depth how to lead a happy life, according to your design. Check it out and sign-up today! It is free but space is limited.
Have a great Monday and be sure to subscribe and get updates when new articles post here such as the one later this afternoon on Dignity.