Over the course of my career, I have worked with thousands of people through courses, programs and coaching. Most say they want to be happy.
By observation, the vast majority have had a degree of delayed gratification syndrome; in other words, they tell themselves that they will be happy when something occurs and have made the concerted decision to be miserable until that specific event happens.
Whether it is the person who says they will be happy when they lose fifty pounds or the individual who declares they will be happy when their business reaches a certain level or that receiving a promotion will be the catalyst for joy, creating ridged parameters around our happiness is a surefire way to burnout and lose any hope of work-life balance.
Years ago when my husband, Chris, was pursuing becoming a chartered accountant, he worked extremely hard on his goal.
In addition to often working sixty hour weeks at his firm, he also had to study.
We began dating during this period and I came pre-packaged as a single mom who also worked long hours in a sales job, had clients on the side and was still training for the Ironman Triathlon.
Together we told ourselves that when Chris became a chartered accountant and I climbed the corporate ladder and became a general manager, plus a top ten Ironman finish, we would be happy.
When we had rare moments together, and childcare, we would run through the streets of Toronto dreaming of the home we would have and the life we would create when we were happy.
Inevitably Chris achieved his goal.
We decided to shift gears and move back to the small town we grew up in, telling ourselves that this would make us happy.
You know what?
Even after achieving his designation and doing all of the things we thought would make us happy, we were miserable. We had not achieved that elusive goal of being happy.
Not only this, for a long time, if you asked us when we were the happiest, we would both have declared that it was during this time of uncertainty, when we thought we were unhappy, that we were actually happy.
Life can be demanding and it can feel challenging to let go of the contingencies and focus on the here and now.
With this in mind, here are five key questions to ask yourself, toward the end of the day, in order to gain some daily happiness, be more present and stop living with the attitude that happiness is some elusive future target to only be had when everything aligns.
1. What put a smile on your face today?
This is one we ask the kids at dinner every night. Sometimes, one of us struggles to recall something that caused us to smile however as we go around the table, it can be something another family member just shared that is an impetus to grin.
I highly recommend using this question at family dinners or journaling on it daily if you are single.
2. What is something you can be grateful for today?
Okay, so perhaps it wasn’t an ideal day however if you have vision to read this, a roof over your head or food in your stomach then you are better off than hundreds of millions of people on the planet.
Daily gratitude provides us with perspective and the more gratitude we express, the faster our view of the world changes from scarcity to abundance.
3. Who did I help today?
There is nothing more noble than contributing to the life of another human being.
Helping those in need gives our lives greater meaning. In my mentorship groups I teach people to pour greatness into three people every day.
This could come in the form of a simple task such as holding the door for a stranger, writing a hand written note or simply taking the time to let someone know how much you appreciate them.
4. Where did I let go today?
Part of the reason we chose to put contingencies on our happiness is that it gives us a false sense of control.
When we let go by making the decision to forgive someone, or not yell at the person who cut us off in traffic, or seek resolution with someone who we feel has done us wrong, we release the roadblocks to our own happiness.
People who let go tend to be much happier than those who hold onto things often delaying their own gratification indefinitely.
5. Did I live into any part of my vision today?
It is essential that we have a vision for our lives.
This vision can be all encompassing or we can have separate visions for money, relationships, health and our spirituality.
Regardless, if we live into any part of our vision, we should celebrate.
When we choose to live into more and more pieces of our vision, eventually we find ourselves living into it in totality and that is a beautiful thing.
It is my hope that these five key questions can help you to find greater daily happiness. Ironically enough, when we are happier, the people around us are happier and in turn our lives become much more fulfilling and yes – even more balanced.
Susan Sly is a best-selling author, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur. She specializes in helping individuals, and organizations, become more productive. She resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, Chris. Susan is the mother of five children and loves her life! To connect with Susan, visit www.SusanSly.com