What do you have to get in order to be happy?
To answer that question, how many of you are immediately jumping to a material place, thinking you need vast wealth, a big house in a great neighborhood, a fancy car, and so much money that you could travel anywhere and buy anything you wanted?
You may even have a list of stuff you believe you need to have to be happy, and maybe you often say things like “If only I was the perfect weight…” or “If only I could afford that big beautiful house and sell this old dated house…” or “If only I could put enough money away to quit the job I hate…” You may think that only then will you be happy—but remember that anything you can get, you can also un-get. Although immense wealth can make you happy, you could lose all your wealth tomorrow. It’s happened to so many people. What you have today could be gone in a second, and that has nothing to do with happiness.
Nothing you can get could make you happy. In fact, your happiness is already a part of you. Some of you may be asking yourself, how come you’re not experiencing true happiness, and instead everything about your life right now completely sucks? Well, you’ve likely spent your entire life learning to be unhappy. The way we learn to be unhappy is by buying into certain mental models about the way the world works. We all have them, including me. You know the expectations surrounding jobs and promotions, having kids and getting them to act a certain way? Having a mental model isn’t necessarily wrong, but the more you invest in a mental model, the more that model becomes your belief system. Generally, the mental models we believe so strongly and buy into are ones that tell us we have to get something so we can do something, so we can be something.
Here is a great one that many of you likely heard while growing up: “We need to get a great deal of money so we can buy all this stuff, and then we can be happy, because right now we have nothing, no money, and are barely making ends meet. We’re under so much stress, and life totally sucks.” Maybe you find yourself saying now that you’ll be happy when you’re in a perfect relationship with the perfect guy or girl. If only you could get a better job, or the boss you hate would just have a heart attack, or your wife would leave without you having to pay her one dime, then you’d be happy. You get the picture. So ask yourself, what is the particular mental model you’re focusing on right now?
Now think about your life ten years ago and the things you believed you needed to have to be happy. How many of those things do you have now, and where has that left you? Are you in extreme happiness or in exactly the same spot you were ten years ago, saying to yourself, “If this happens, I will be happy”? The problem is the model itself is flawed, so we spend an enormous amount of time trying to change the “if.” Think of it this way: Can you remember a time when you just stopped and took in a scene of great beauty, a waterfall in the forest, the sky after a storm? I’m sure you didn’t say, “The rainbow is off center and needs to move ninety degrees to the right” or “There are too many trees by that waterfall. Someone get a chainsaw, please, and start cutting them all down, and then it will be perfect.”
The problem is all the problems you think you have and are struggling to fix. So how do you get out of it? Actions are within your control, but the outcome is outside your control. When you work toward a goal, sometimes you don’t achieve it, and sometimes you get the exact opposite of what you wanted. Someone shared this great story with me, and I had a good laugh over it: A friend said, “Geez, I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to my wife, and this has to change.” He bought a really expensive dress for her, and it was his way of showing her how much he really loved her. Of course, when she received the gift, he had this crazy idea of some exciting things happening for him… You get the picture! But instead, do you know what her reaction was? Not what he expected. She said, “After twenty years of marriage, you don’t know my size? You don’t know I never wear this kind of thing?” From there, a full-blown argument ensued. You know the kind, where the kids step out of the house and hope the neighbors aren’t hearing it all.
The problem is that we live in a world where we invest in expected outcomes, and we define ourselves in the following way: Here I am, here is where I need to go, and these are the steps I have to take in order to get from where I am to where I want to go. If I succeed, then life is wonderful, and if I don’t succeed, then I have failed, and life totally sucks. So what do you do? First, don’t invest in the outcome. Instead, invest in the process. What that means is you want to invest everything you have into doing the best you’re capable of. If you do your very, very best and don’t leave anything on the table, I think you’ll be happy with the outcome regardless.
I can tell you that’s exactly what has happened for me over and over, from my very first book to where I am now, maneuvering through a publishing industry in which very few authors can actually earn a full-time living. With every book I write, with every promotion I run, I put everything I have into the process, and what has happened for me just this week was completely unexpected, but I’m so totally thrilled with the outcome: I landed in the #1 spot on Amazon in romance and was the #4 bestselling romantic suspense author, and one of my books was #19 out of all books in the Amazon store. Additionally, I was #1 on Apple Books in romantic suspense and #3 in the entire Barnes and Noble Nook store. Did I expect this outcome? Am I looking in the mirror and saying to myself that I could have done better? Do you hear me whining and complaining that this isn’t good enough because I didn’t hit the #1 spot on Nook or the #1 spot overall on Amazon? No, because instead I’m saying to myself, “Good job! Way to go!” What I did was invest everything into the process, and I left nothing on the table, working my butt off to do my very, very best—and there’s nothing in this outcome that makes me say, “If only…”
Did you miss recent release You Are My Everything (The Friessens, Book 22)?
Up and coming hockey rookie Michael Friessen has everything going for him: a future few could hope for, parents who are his everything… He doesn’t want anything more until one weekend before he secures a spot with the Canucks, when he wakes up with a ring on his finger and the hottest, sexiest blonde sound asleep beside him.
He tries to tell himself it was a mistake, that he isn’t looking for a relationship, and despite everything about her, including the night he’s still trying to remember, he’s determined not to fall for her. But the closer they get, the deeper he falls—until he learns that the night they met may not have been accidental.
Michael's story is available at Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play and Smashwords. Or buy direct from me here and save 25% when you share on Facebook or Twitter! And as a bonus everyone who buys You Are My Everything gets the FREE novella about Cat & Xander for FREE. Details inside You Are My Everything.
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