…and why it has nothing to do with money!
For most people, the wealthiest time of their lives is just prior to retirement. Debt is often eliminated, homes are owned outright, and savings have been maximised. That’s when most people believe they have the financial freedom enabling them to live happily ever after, right?
So with all of this financial freedom, why do many people feel unhappy in retirement?
The secret to happiness is well within your reach. It is a state of mind and completely within your control regardless of your financial situation. You can have happiness right now, no matter what’s going on in your life.
How financial freedom forces you to learn the truth about money and happiness
There is a seldom said, little secret about financial freedom. It is counter-intuitive and illustrates an essential principle about money and happiness.
When you achieve financial freedom your life suddenly changes from pre-determined to self-determined.
The surprising effect of this is you are suddenly stripped of all the excuses for why your life might be less than ideal. You instantly become solely responsible for your own happiness with no excuses allowed.
To understand how this works and why it’s important, let’s first look at the reality faced by most people living the ordinary working-life existence. Their lives are largely pre-determined. They spend the bulk of their time working to earn the money necessary to build a better lifestyle. The little remaining time is quickly swallowed up by family, chores and other tasks and not a lot is left for fun. There is also a lot “stuff” to distract people from seeing the truth about their lives.
However, once you achieve financial freedom all that changes. Suddenly 2,000 hours a year previously spent on work-related tasks is yours to do with as you please. Your days don’t have a pre-determined structure and your time becomes a blank canvas for you to paint the life of your dreams upon. Your life becomes self determined.
However, the downside to having a self-determined life is you no longer get to follow a default script imposed by society because financial freedom eliminates the need for the structure and there is a void left in its place. Your days are no longer filled with stuff you “have” to do and you have to choose what you’d “like” to do. You’re in the driver’s seat of your own life.
For some people, the adventure this situation presents is exciting, but for many others, being solely responsible for your day, your life and ultimately your happiness is daunting to the point of terrifying.
Personal freedom is the retirement goal, not financial freedom
Once a person realises that the goal all along is personal freedom, not financial freedom, things can start to change. So what is the answer? How can you enjoy each and every day?
A simple daily habit can create more happiness than achieving financial freedom
Taking personal accountability for your daily happiness is a journey in personal growth. The essence of this personal growth is understanding that your happiness is a product of your thoughts. Your approach to life. Nothing more, nothing less.
To get yourself in the correct frame of mind each day, it is important to re-focus and therefore re-train the way you think.
It doesn’t sound like much, but by reading everyday the following 6 point checklist of thoughts and measuring yourself against this list, you will begin to notice tangible results and after about 90 days you will have habitualised the practice.
Remember, your happiness is a state of mind. You don’t have to be rich, and you don’t have to wait until you reach some level of achievement in the future.
You can have happiness right now.
Your daily happiness checklist
- Choose happiness as the priority for the day
- The decision to be happy is actually the decision to stop being unhappy.
- Most people seek happiness as a by-product of their achievements, actions and other things they do through the day. This makes their happiness dependent upon what happens during their day. Make happiness a direct choice without any dependency.
- Happiness does not require favourable events, interactions, or any particular stimulus. You can choose happiness at any given moment, no matter what’s going on and for absolutely no other reason than to just be happy.
- Suffering today in an effort to earn greater success and income for tomorrow so that you can relax and feel secure at some future date is insane. You can embrace the adventure that is your life. You can do what you can each day without stress but with creativity and joy, and trust the results will be meaningful.
- You can pursue all your goals from a happy place today. Your internal state of being doesn’t depend on external events that you believe will make you happy at some unknown future.
- There’s no reason to limit happiness to the dessert in life. It can be the whole meal.
- Happiness is an option and misery is an option. They are both choices you can apply to the same day’s events. It’s your choice.
- Let go of judgments
- The secret to happiness lies not in the events, but in our response to them.
- Adopt an accepting attitude to all things and events in life.
- Try to go the whole day without blaming, shaming or complaining. No negative thoughts.
- See everyone as being on their own heroic journey through the trials and tribulations of life. We are all doing the best we can with what we know. If others do you wrong, then try to find compassion for the pain that motivated them to do wrong.
- Live in the present
- Unhappiness does not exist in the present It only exists as a regret about the past or worry toward the future.
- Taking deep breaths helps your brain to function in the present.
- Be grateful
- Remind yourself your life is filled with endless wonders every hour of every day. The only time you are actually unhappy is when you take this for granted.
- Train yourself to be sensitive and appreciative for all the little things that occur for daily life to simply go on.
- Notice how much time you spend on thoughts of gratitude as opposed to thoughts about problems.
- Be grateful for what you have and say or do something to make your gratitude visible or real.
- Gratitude is simply a choice to become aware of the good things that are already true in any given situation and become consciously thankful for.
- Create strong social connection
- The risk we associate with authenticity is illusory. The more we nurture our true selves, remove our masks, and allow uncensored expression, the more our relationships and surroundings will support our true selves.
- Simplify your life and greet every person and situation with positivity.
- Quality relationships creates happiness. Quantity of relationships can distract.
- Live with contribution
- Find at least one way each day to make another person happy. It could be as simple as a kind word, a personal acknowledgement, giving anonymously, or allowing someone in a rush to get ahead.
- Serve a purpose greater than your own needs.
- By giving happiness, you experience happiness.
Happiness is found in the journey, not the destination.
You don’t need to wait until you achieve financial freedom to be happy. Practice these habits now and begin enjoying the benefits today.
Finally, here is a particularly relevant quote from Mahatma Ghandi…
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Here’s to your happiness!