Finding Happiness No Matter What Happens

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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Finding Happiness No Matter What Happens - Rick Warren Quote on Happiness by Simple Reminders

In American culture and society, we are so often taught that happiness depends upon external events. When you get that dream job, marry that dream spouse, buy that dream house, or (fill in the blank), then you will finally be truly happy.

I am here to tell you that I have found another way to live. Finding happiness no matter what happens is my new way of being.

This means that when things go my way, I’m happy. And when they don’t, I still find reasons to celebrate life and live with joy.

Often, Things Go My Way

If I am honest, my track record of things “going my way” is reasonably high. I mean, most mornings I wake up feeling reasonably happy and healthy, do a nice morning meditation and have a healthy breakfast, and get started with my day without any major snags.

I have created a lifestyle for myself that I love, with lots of flexibility and plenty of travel. I haven’t worked a 9-to-5 job since the year 2000, by choice.

I love living a flexible life as an entrepreneur. It has its ups and downs of course, but I don’t mind the roller coaster ride that it sometimes subjects me to, since working for oneself means higher levels of risk and greater adventures.

I basically live by this Paulo Coelho quote:

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal.”

I have amazing family and friends, and live a life that is characterized by joy, connection, fun, laughter and risk-taking. I love taking on new projects, expanding my business, shaking up my life, expanding my horizons.

In general, day to day, life is pretty remarkably amazing. For the most part, I’d say, things “go my way.”

And Then Sometimes, They Don’t

Life is generally pretty wonderful. But I live on Planet Earth, and the last time I checked at least, it’s not a perfect planet, and I’m not a perfect person.

Most of the time, most things go my way. Life flows, most of the time.

But I tackle new projects, and take risks. I gamble on things.

I try something new, often. Sometimes things go my way, and sometimes they don’t.

Last week, a few very big things in my life didn’t go the way I had hoped. One involved someone I love, and a decision that was beyond my control.

I am a true believer in the philosophy that we cannot make decisions for others, and that we can’t always know what is best for others. That said, there are times when we may be rooting for a friend to choose one course of action over another.

There are times when, from where we are standing, one course of action clearly seems to be better than another. And we may try to influence someone to move in a certain direction, not because it’s beneficial for us (which of course, is merely trying to direct someone else’s life path for our own selfish purposes) but because we genuinely believe it will be for the best in the long run, for them.

Last week, I had hoped to guide someone to a path that they ultimately did not choose. Nothing you can do but release it, and hope for the best.

I also found out that things do not appear to be going my way with a real estate transaction that I have been pursuing. I wish I could share more details here, and may soon, but right in the thick of the situation, I feel like it’s best to keep the details minimal.

Now, I just bought a big downtown commercial property recently, and all the news regarding that property is great news. So there are definitely areas of my life where things are going well.

And, there are some parts of my life that don’t seem to be aligning right now, no matter how hard I work to try to make things align. There comes a time when you really do have to surrender to the universe completely, when you’ve done all that you can, and you have to throw up your hands – not in an “I’m defeated” kind of way, but in an “I’ve done all I can” sort of way.

I have done all that I can.

At that point, I feel that we simply allow the universe to guide our course. If something is meant to be, it will be.

I don’t believe in passively waiting for your dreams to come to you – I actively go after them. But if I have done all that I can and things are not yet aligning, sometimes it is just time to release things back to the universe.


Leaving Room for Miracles

Sometimes, of course, that is precisely when the miracle comes. I cannot tell you how many times I have done all that I can, and released something, and it suddenly just clicked into place.

It mapped. The phone call came. The check arrived out of the blue that I wasn’t expecting.

Somehow, everything clicked into place, in a way that I could not have possibly predicted. This has happened to me more times that I can count.

It leaves me convinced that we live in a magical world, and that we simply have to give life our best, and show up every day, and life will bring the magic.

When I wanted to stay in San Francisco, but my work contract was up, and my apartment sublet was ending, I just kept looking — for jobs, for apartments. A graduate school friend ended up offering to let me live with her, for free, since her family was abroad and she was living by herself in a big mansion.

Um, my answer was definitely YES!

I scoured the papers and sent out resumes, but ultimately landed work when I stopped for tea one day at a little shack near the ocean. There, two men dressed in business suits asked me if I had gone to Harvard (I was wearing my Harvard baseball hat, thankfully) and ended up hiring me almost on the spot to do strategic planning for them.

Magic happens. When we are working hard and moving in the direction of our dreams, sometimes the universe will just move things along a little more quickly.

And when things aren’t aligning, maybe there is a reason that we can’t yet know or understand, but that ultimately will make our life better in the long run. I have to trust in this.

Finding Happiness No Matter What Happens - Happiness quote from

Choosing Happiness

And I do choose to be happy, no matter what. The ups and downs and unexpected surprises of my life keep it a great adventure.

I would not trade my life for something more routine, for a 9-to-5 job and the same-old, same-old day after day.

I like living on the edge a bit. I like making new discoveries, and challenging myself to grow, and tackling new projects, and not knowing what’s going to happen next.

I have made the choice to live this way. And I have made the choice to be happy, no matter what happens.

That of course does not mean that every single second of my life will be ecstatic, although many moments will indeed be ultra-fabulous. It means that my happiness is not contingent upon any external circumstances, whatsoever.

That is a powerful, life-changing choice to make. Because when you decide that you will be happy, no matter what, nothing can shake your happiness.

A change in life circumstances cannot take away your joy, once you realize that your joy arises from within you.

And that is a powerful, and peaceful, place from which to live your happy dream life.