If so, chances are you are reflecting back on the year and feeling pretty darned happy. Chances are also that you were happy a lot of the time, in spite of setbacks and goals that you may not have reached.
It’s easy to beat ourselves up at the end of the year thinking about all that was left unsaid or undone. We often think that if we simply had completed or achieved that elusive goal we set previously that we would be “happy.”
I recently heard an interview with author Oliver Burkeman, whose new book is “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.” He writes that happiness isn’t a constant state of excitement or upbeat emotions. That takes an enormous amount of effort to maintain, and doesn’t exactly jibe with reality for most of us. Burkeman discovered through research that positive thinking can actually make us more unhappy because the more we focus on it exclusively, the harder it is to achieve.
Here are the top 5 tips to shift your definition of happiness for 2013
Focus on the moment. Imagine how you would be alright if you didn’t meet your goal.
Keep goal setting in perspective. Relentless over-pursuit of goals can actually make us less successful and less happy because we distort other aspects of our life while trying to reach the goal and then are still not happy once we have it.
Be alright with uncertainty. Lots of successful entrepreneurs tolerate uncertainty and exist alongside it all the while moving forward.
Use goals as a compass vs. as a target; take action regardless.
Don’t pretend: Trying to feel differently than you really feel by repressing actually can induce more shame and frustration. Instead, deliberately sketch out how badly things could go so you maximize chances of things going right!
Feel the highs and the lows of the emotional spectrum; both sides have value for the human experience.
Burkeman concludes that happiness exists often when we experience the emotion of awe; it combines wonder with a sort of fear. By being open to both sides of the emotional range, we can live and lead with authentic happiness.
Make 2013 the year you live and lead in awe.