I was recently reading an article from the Huffington Post which reported that nearly 7% of Americans are clinically depressed. I have loved ones in that population. I desperately hope this 7% get the support they need and the help they deserve. Now, there are two ways to look at this: first, we can explicitly say that 7% of Americans have a reason to not be happy. Their brain literally functions in such a way that happiness is more difficult, if even possible, to attain. The other way I look at this is to say that 93% of Americans do not have a medical reason to not be happy. If 9 out of 10 people in the US do not have a reason to be unhappy, why is it that only 1 out of 3 report to be very happy? This is staggering, but I am not completely surprised.
As somebody who speaks to and interacts with many different groups, I have found a common thread among the happy. The happiest people don’t focus on being happy per se. The happiest people are those who focus on three key aspects. If you find that you’re having bad days more than you’d like, please consider these three points.
1. Perspective. Back in the day, ships had something called the crow’s nest attached near the top of a mast (the large pole the sail was attached to). From the crow’s nest, a designated shipman was able to see things from a better perspective than the hands on deck. From this vantage point, he was better able to see oncoming ships, he had a clearer perspective of the waters ahead, and he was typically the first to see land. You see, most unhappy people are unhappy because of a poor perspective. They’re looking at life and its struggles from the deck, or even worse, below the deck! What you must do is get into the crow’s nest of your own life. That way, when you’re in troubled waters, or you feel like land is nowhere to be found, you can look at your situation from a better perspective. If you fail to see things differently, you will fail to feel differently. This first step is critical to follow.
2. Action. “If you’re livin’ then find out your purpose and make it do what it do. Still, coulda, woulda, shoulda are the last words of a fool.” – Tobe Nwigwe, Been Grindin. If your perspective is right, and your mind is in the right place but you’re still not happy, you need to honestly evaluate what action steps you’re taking. The key is making sure you are working towards something of value. You must be involved in something bigger than yourself. Why are you at your current job? What is it that keeps you there? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day? The answers to these questions are necessary to identify. You can’t have the right attitude if you’ve got the wrong answers to these questions. Bottom line is this- be working to make somebody else’s life better, and in turn you can’t help but feel better. This will always be so.
3. Relationships. I always tell people, “You can’t stay dry in a pool.” People complain about being cold and wet while they’re hanging out in the pool! Your environment has an effect on you, always. So if perspective is set and you’re involved in your fulfilling work, but you’re not still not happy, you better check your relationships. In the same way that it is impossible to stay dry in a pool, you cannot be positive and happy when you’re surrounded by negative people. This might require you to cut some ties with certain people, but listen, you don’t owe anybody your presence if they’re going to bring you down.
I don’t promise a truck-load of money by following these three points, but I can promise you happiness, and that beats the hell out of money any day.