• Kimberly

HAPPINESS 1 OF 5: You don't need to wait for life to get better.

Our culture has a message about what we need out of life to be happy, and it's a delusion.

It goes something like this: we need to be social media influencers with great style, marble countertops, one true love, two and a half STEM-focused children, a politically correct car, a fulfilling career we're passionate about, flattering workout clothes, and just the right haircut every season.

But then life intervenes. You're wearing last year's pajama pants to the PTO meeting, every time you save up for a kitchen remodel the car breaks down, your "one true love" leaves you, you have infertility or kids with a diagnosis, the career didn't pan out and you can't even remember your last haircut.

So now you've officially failed at the perfect life.

And the problem is, this "perfect life" delusion leaves us feeling, when it doesn't pan out, that now we can never be happy. (And it's tragic, because the "perfect life" delusion doesn't come from any actual happy people. It is manufactured by marketers to get us to buy what they're selling--be it social media coaching, marble countertops, or fashion magazines that would go out of business if they didn't have a new hairstyle to promote every season. They're not studying human happiness to decide what to sell you. They have something to sell you and they're selling it by saying it's necessary for happiness.)

But there must be something that makes for a happy life. And it should be available to anyone, no matter what kind of countertops they have.

I'll have more to say about happiness in this series, but I'm going to start with this study. Researchers analyzed life satisfaction and its relationship to personality, gratitude, and appreciation. Personality impacts happiness, as you might expect--more social, more extroverted people are more satisfied with their lives than others with the same race, income, and education.

But people who are more appreciative--who savor the pleasant moments of life--are happier than others no matter what their personality or life circumstances.

That means that no matter what is going on in your life, if you notice the good things and take a moment to savor them, you can create for yourself a life deeply full of beautiful things.

You don't need to wait for things to get better. You don't need to embark on a dramatic project of change. You don't need to convince other people to be different.

Everything you need to improve your life happiness is right here, right now, in your decision to bask in the delightful little things.

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