The world teaches us all kinds of ways to be happy; take a vacation, meet the right person, try this pill, succeed at work, make more money, have more sex, lose more weight, etc. It’s easy to believe that “more” is the answer. No matter how many times you get disappointed, you still try again because “this time it might work”. Deep down you know none of the above will work in the long run, but you try anyway. No one should give up on being happy but trying to change circumstances will never bring true happiness.

It’s a mistake to think external changes are the source of happiness. Looking a certain way or having nice things will not do it. No matter how good you look or how many nice things you have, someone will always look better or have more so you’re never satisfied. There’s nothing wrong with improving circumstances but no matter what changes one thing remains constant, you. Being happy about an external change and being happy, are not the same.

So how can you be happy? Children can be great teachers. They have a sense of wonder and joy for no reason at all. Watch a child and see how they delight in just watching an insect move. They don’t need specific things to happen; they simply choose to be happy and at some level know it comes from within. As children get older they buy into needing “more, better or different” to be happy. They make up a “story” about who they are how and how they were created is no longer “enough” and begin to look outside of themselves for happiness. Simple things like watching an insect no longer does it and they move onto electronic games, a relationship, cell phones or the perfect outfit. These become nothing more than distractions. Entertainment, fun and pleasure are all very different from being happy.

It’s human to go around making up stories about what it takes to be happy and then forget you made it all up. Your stories are kept alive by not questioning them. You stay distracted by your circumstances and create a bunch of excuses about why you’re not happy. “It’s not my fault, if he/she would stop doing that I… or if I could just get that job then I’d be happy”. Your stories are held onto because even if life seems miserable you can still say, “at least it’s not my fault”. Even though it’s made up, it really seems like “that’s the way it is”. Then you try to compensate, fix or change whatever you say the problem is. More, better and different rule the day and happiness seems out of reach.

We all want to believe the solution for happiness is something “out there” so we don’t have to be responsible for how our life is. If you believe something or someone is the source for your unhappiness, you must automatically believe it or they are also the source for your happiness. It’s like a double edge sword, you lose either way.

How and what you think is always your choice. There is no magic formula, but understanding that you are the only real solution is the beginning to building a solid foundation towards being happy. Reading books, taking seminars and classes are all useless unless you incorporate what you learn into your life. A choice to work on you is a choice to be happy. All it takes is willingness to start.

Without the stories blocking your view, you will begin to see life from a different perspective. Learning not to worry about what others say or think becomes second nature because you’ll realize it’s never personal anyway. This allows you to put less emphasis on needing to look good or pleasing others (freedom). Pealing away these stories begins with being aware they exist which is difficult to see on your own. Having someone to work with is crucial to the process.