Happiness Is Not For Wimps

happiness is not for wimps

“When I am happy, I see the happiness in others. When I am depressed, I notice that people’s eyes look sad. When I am weary, I see the world as boring and unattractive.”

– Steve Chandler

Happiness is not a quality easily had by those who fear challenge and difficulty. Happiness, as a matter of fact, can require quite a bit from us if we would develop those traits that produce it at its highest potential.

In other words, happiness is not for the squeamish. It requires us to get our hands dirty in the ditches and mountain sides of life. It requires us to climb and learn and overcome and develop in ways that are not always easy. Here are four reasons happiness is not for wimps:

1. Happiness requires Humility

What it means: Humble people are teachable. They can bend and adapt as they come to see better ways of doing things. They haven’t been made brittle by the calcification of pride.

Why it’s hard: Pride is a stubborn characteristic. It solidifies us around positions and beliefs and ways of doing things. It prevents growth because it claims already to be fully formed, all-knowing and always right. Acquiring humility requires softening pride enough to crack its hard exterior. Such cracks can be humbling events, and often very painful.

How it helps: Humility is to happiness what a gym membership is to health. The gym membership will do nothing for your health if you stay home. But it’s a key to a door that opens you to the equipment and classes that can add greatly to your health and wellness if used regularly.

Humility is that same key to that same door to the personal developmental gym of life. It opens us to self-analysis, allowing us to see and admit to shortcomings and flaws that muck up the gears to happy living. It also opens us to learning from life and from the trials we experience and from other people too – all essential elements to a deep abiding sort of happiness.

2. Happiness requires moving in and out of Comfort Zones

What it means: The old truism holds true for happiness as for everything else: If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. To increase happiness, changes have to occur, habits have to be formed, unformed and reformed.

Why it’s hard: We can get so used to doing things the way we’ve always done them that the force necessary to course correct can be very difficult to sustain. February is littered with the corpses of broken promises made in January. Sustained change is simply difficult for most people to keep up. Certainly there are ways of making improvements easier, but even acquiring and implementing those techniques and attitudes require effort and will and self-discipline. Steps have to be taken to learn and implement them, after all.

How it helps: Comfort zones are formed around activities repeated over time. They are the result of routine and sameness. The problem is that you can’t grow anything by continuing to do what you’ve always done. Stagnation cannot produce joy. Happiness, on the other hand, is partially the result of personal growth and development, of evolving from where you are to where you can be. There is joy in the process of closing the gap between you and your potential.

3. Happiness requires overcoming Selfishness

What it means: It is front and center at almost every divorce and is locked behind bars with every inmate. It is heart and soul of every act of fraud and theft and tyranny and oppression. It regards the self over others. It wants and grabs and takes. It seeks its own over what’s right. It sacrifices decency and compassion and love at the altar of self-indulgence.

Why it’s hard: Selfishness is the universal character flaw. It permeates the lives of almost all people to varying degrees. It lives in human nature and boils over in a culture that celebrates self-aggrandizement. Children are masters of it and is the natural order of things unless and until we are taught to be otherwise. Selfishness does not need to be taught. But compassion does.

How it helps: One of the great ironies to personal development is that the more we focus on ourselves, the further happiness drifts from us. But by losing ourselves in service to others, the more we find our true inner selves. By hoarding, we lose. By giving, we gain so much more than we give.

4. Happiness requires retraining Thoughts

What it means: Our thoughts create our reality. If we dwell on the ugly and the corrupt, on the negative and salacious, we sink in the thick liquid of anger and disillusionment and frustration, cynicism and despair.

Why it’s hard: Bad habits are hard to break. Good ones are hard to acquire. They require consistency which is hard to sustain. Habitual thoughts are harder still because they are such subtle things, sneaking in when we are not looking. Retraining our thoughts takes constant vigilance and commitment. It requires monitoring our feelings as the barometer of our thoughts and our words as the indicator of what and how we think.

How it helps: As we think, so are we. If I think life is unfair and cold and vindictive, I will feel that reality. But if I think life is an adventurous joy, that the challenges of life are meant for my good, that it is my task to figure out how life is trying to guide and direct my path, then the attitudinal reality will be completely different. And so will the level of happiness available to me.

So Now What?

In order to have a life of growth and happiness, you must be vigilant in recognizing and overcoming the obstacles life and human nature place in the way. As you learn to recognize the trouble spots, take steps to build your ability to transcend them. Develop the characteristics that break down those obstacles.

But how?

Set goals. Make them small and incremental. Take small but regular steps toward the needed improvement. Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of work you may have. Set the smaller goals and focus there. One or two at a time is usually plenty. The big picture will come as you lay the smaller bricks.

Will Smith’s dad once took Will and his brother to his store to rebuild a brick wall he had torn down. Will was 12 and his brother was nine at the time. They complained it was an impossible task for two so young. It took a year and a half to finish, as a matter of fact. But when they were done, their dad looked at them and said, “Now don’t you ever tell me that there’s something that you can’t do.”

They learned the lesson of one-brick-at-a-time. We can build amazing lives of deep and lasting happiness much the same way.

And in the meantime?

Enjoy the journey! Happiness doesn’t need to wait at life’s finish line of life. You can take it with you as you build happiness upon happiness, one character trait, one practice, one habit and one principle one brick at a time.

Photo by Yan R.

37 thoughts on “Happiness Is Not For Wimps”

  1. Great post Ken. Totally agree with you. To maintain the strength of being happy I think we really need to understand ourselves through self awareness, and have a flexible mindset to adapt to life challenges.

    Creating a life with purpose and passion takes a lot of strength. Through step by step action towards living our dreams life will unfold itself to become more manageable.

    I have learnt that being in the comfort zone is never provides real comfort. The sense of security develops from the inner strength of taking on challenges with a positive attitude. What really drives me is having the awareness of the positive lessons which exist from all life experiences. Thank you Ken

    1. Thanks Paul! What a great comment! I especially love the wisdom in your statement that “being in the comfort zone never provides real comfort.” So true!

      Life challenges to our character and emotional states are what the gym is to our physical states. Without the resistance, there just isn’t much growth to speak of. It is in the fire of the trial that we often have the emotional debris burned off.

      But to learn and grow from the work of living through difficult times, like you said, we need to have the positive attitude that allows us to see and then step beyond the adversity into the joy that comes to those who weather the storms of life well.

      Thanks so much for the awesome and thoughtful comment, Paul.

  2. Insightful post Ken and thank you!

    I love tihs statement: “Stagnation cannot produce joy. Happiness, on the other hand, is partially the result of personal growth and development, of evolving from where you are to where you can be. There is joy in the process of closing the gap between you and your potential.”

    Everyone has the potential it’s fear that blocks that potential to be truly happy. Living in the comfort zone of life causes stagnation and boredom. To push our limits in life, to not settle and live our dreams and passions – bliss!

    In gratitude to your words,

    1. Hi Nancy!

      Thank you for the kind words. I love the depth of your insight you shared. Fear truly is the great immobilizer. I like that you added boredom to the effects of stagnation. Can you imagine a happy bored person? Me either! You’re so right! Living cloistered lives within the ease of our comfort zones is to forfeit any sense of excitement about living. It’s to escape from having to exercise the creativity of carving out a life worth getting excited about to hide behind the wall of mundane repetition. But to wake up and reach out and create and grow and see and understand and develop and become what we can become is to step way outside comfort zones, but also to step deep inside a life that is open to the perfect word you used, Nancy: Bliss!

      Thank you!

  3. This post proves that words have the power to motivate. Exceptionally well written article.
    Thanks and please keep writing. You have moved me enough to get started and not stagnate.

    1. Thank you, Raj!

      That means a lot to me. As for writing? I don’t think I could stop if I tried. It’s become part of the DNA of my day.

      That’s awesome that you’re going to stir the waters of your life. Stagnation is poison. And never forget that a life of stagnation is just as poisoned had we sipped from a stagnant pool.

      Blessings on your journey!

  4. Hi Ken,

    Enjoy the journey. Life is a journey and like you say when we get out of the comfort zone we have built for ourselves we fin happiness and joy.

    When i got my divorce and had to be totally responseable for 3 children, it scare the pants of me, but it was a better option that staying in my situation. When all was said and done I found happiness. I was proud and knew than what I was really made of and that I could complish anything that I set my mind to too.

    With an attitude that lifes journey make you strong, so hit them head on and you will enjoy the ride.

    Thank you for sharing this post with us. Everyone deserve to find there way to happiness.
    Blessing to you,

    1. Hey there, Debbie!

      It’s always a treat to see you! Thanks for stopping by Peter’s amazing site here to comment on my guest post! Hope all is well in the happy land of “Happy Maker Now”!

      Life IS a journey! And you have had some bumpy roads along the way. All the more wonderful and impressive that you are such a force for good in the world today!

      So many people turn bitter and sour in the wake of life’s difficulties. But the attitude we take to the adversity determines the nature and effect the challenge has on our attitudes and personalities and character.

      Thank you for rising to the occasion and living your life with such positive joy, my friend!

      Be good, Debbie!

    1. That’s such a true statement, David! Happiness is indeed an art. It requires creativity and imagination, the practice any art requires to master it, the styles that are explored are also reflected in the ways we can explore our inner and outer worlds on our road to happiness.

      Thanks so much for the comment, my friend!

  5. Thanks for such a great post Ken.

    I completely agree with your fourth point that happiness depends upon retraining our thoughts.

    It’s essential to know yourself so that you can identify and defuse thoughts which will destroy the chances of achieving a state of happiness.

    Beyond that, I reckon it’s vital to pursue your true passion in life. The progressive accomplishment of a worthwhile goal, however large or small, is the key to a happy life.

    And from personal experience, if you pin your happiness to something you can’t control, that’s a recipe for unhappiness and disappointment.

    Thanks again for sharing this post.

    1. Hi Stuart! Great points! Knowing ourselves is essential if we’re to discover those parts of our habitual thought processes that are limiting our happiness.

      And a life without passion is a tepid life of luke-warmness.

      My favorite point: “And from personal experience, if you pin your happiness to something you can’t control, that’s a recipe for unhappiness and disappointment.” Such a true statement, Stuart! The promotion, the beautiful home, the title or status or fame will never fill in the missing pieces of a person who is groping in the dark to give them what they don’t have.

      Thanks for the insight and wisdom!

  6. Great post, Ken!
    I agree with you that happiness is not something for everybody. Most people shy away from it or are simply too lazy to work on themselves and achieve a state of happiness.
    With your first point (humility), you hit the nail on the head. You need to let go of your pride and selfishness in order to work on our thoughts and our mindset.

    1. Hello Anne-Sophie! I would hope happiness is for everybody, but you’re absolutely right that many people never flex those emotional and moral muscles enough to create it in their lives, including the humility needed to open their eyes wide enough to see what areas most need to be tweaked to start down that path. All we can do is share the steps in hopes others will take them.

      Thanks so much for sharing your insight!

  7. Ken, thank you so much for such a wonderful post. I’ve been rather lost lately, and your post has put into words what I sensed I needed to do but could not really form into a concrete blueprint. Thanks so much for shining a light when I really needed it :) Hope your day and your life is happiness itself.

    1. You’re welcome Mel! I’m deeply touched that I was able to provide you with something helpful, a light on your path. All it requires to get to the end of the road is a step at a time. Blessings to you as you begin to redirect your steps, Mel. But be patient with yourself as you go. We all stumble around in the dark from time to time. And that’s okay as long as we move more often than not in the right direction.

  8. hi Ken

    Good to see you here :) I think humility is quite key to this, I’ve never really seen arrogant people happy. I used to be quite snobbish. Depression humbled me. I think i’m happier than before because i’m more in touch with myself and others, because humility freed up space in my heart for that

    take care. look forward to more wisdom from you here and on your blog
    Noch Noch

    1. Good to be here, Noch! Peter does amazing work here at The Change Blog; I’m honored to be featured here, interacting with his readers.

      It’s interesting how life seems to reach up and knock us down when we get too cocky. Sorry yours was such a hard fall, but glad your making your way back, perhaps with a tad more humility than before. :)

  9. Thank you for a great article, Ken!

    I would love to hear more about setting goals. An accountant-at-heart, I have always struggled with trying to develop what we refer to as “soft” skills, as we are taught that goals have to be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely).

    How would you apply that to goal setting in this case? Or would you throw the SMART rules out of the window ;)

    1. Hello Becca! What an interesting question; so glad you asked. I think the SMART method of goal setting can work very well with the brand of personal goals I advocate for more happiness.

      Let’s say the weakness I spot in myself that I think is really holding me back from happiness is a habitually negative perspective on life. I might set three specific, measurable goals by committing to 1) start a gratitude journal, adding 10 new things for which I’m grateful a day. 2) Stopping myself each time I catch myself starting to speak or think negatively and verbally replacing the negative thought with a positive statement in its place. 3) Read The Power of Positive Thinking by the end of this month. You can further set a timeline to check completion at some date in the future. Not every one of the three are equally measurable. But taken as a whole, it seems to me that they come pretty close.

  10. Hi Ken,

    I agree. Happiness is not for wimps as you say. It requires a fair amount of work if we want to be truly happy. It doesn’t just happen because we have to create the right conditions for happiness to flourish from within. Here are my thoughts on your points to being happy.

    1. Happiness requires Humility

    How true. If we cannot change our negative habits, thinking and all that is causing us to be unhappy, we can never be happy. The problem is that it is not easy to master our pride and our ego. In fact, it can take great courage and strength to be humble. Thus, happiness does indeed require humility.

    3. Happiness requires overcoming Selfishness

    Living life solely for ourselves lacks meaning. Sure, material possessions and pleasures may make us momentarily happy, but these things are shallow and so the happiness does not last.

    But living for the sake of others and doing all we can to protect and nurture our loved ones gives our lives deep meaning. This also requires deep sacrifices, but it is something we will willingly do for the sake of love. When we learn to place others before ourselves and to better them, happiness comes naturally.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

    1. Hey Irving!

      Thank you so much for your always-thoughtful comments! I absolutely loved the way you put this: “we have to create the right conditions for happiness to flourish from within.” That’s where the hard work of happiness takes place.

      Also great points on creating meaning in our lives as an important aspect of living happy lives as well. After the initial jolt to the system humility allows as we peer into our own souls, the truly happy are people who have used that self-awareness to figure out a way to create deeply meaningful lives of significance.

      Thanks again for adding your insight to the post!

  11. Great post Ken, happiness is such a byproduct of a sum of the things you stated above. I find in my own journey of personal development that retraining thoughts and staying discipline, committed and consistent in my goal setting and achieving to be a constant battle. I do find however, that the more I use my will power and vision of my future the battle of the mind becomes easier to stave off. Comfort zones are also so key because we are such creatures of habit and moving in and out of them requires such effort that it is easier to put off the task…but it is so necessary.Thank you for your insight and effort by posting this jewel. To your continued success.

    1. Thank you so much, Drew. You shared some wonderfully wise words yourself in your comment. Sorry I’m so late replying. Haven’t checked back in in quite some time.

  12. With happiness I found that you can do a lot with “inner work” – focus on happy thoughts, look for the perspectives that feel good. With a happy perspective it’s much easier to create a happier life, then and leave your comfort zone once in a while.

  13. Thank you for sharing this great article Ken. You definitely nailed it my friend! Two-thumbs up for you! Your words have given me warmth and joy. Keep practicing this craft so that more people will be enveloped with your wisdom. Keep on inspiring!

  14. Wonderful words of wisdom and inspiration, Ken! I really needed that just now when I was feeling overwhelmed with my new life as a writer. One brick, one new habit, one principle, one character trait at a time while bringing happiness along for the ride instead of having it wait at the finish line. Priceless advice!

    I also loved what you said about changing our routines, our daily habits, the way we live day after day, year after year. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut even when it comes to things that have brought us joy and served us in the past but that now trip us up and get us stuck and become obstacles to our happiness when they no longer serve us. For example, I just adopted a 3 month old puppy 4 days ago and have found my life has been turned upside down a bit. It’s taken away my normal routines and prevented me from doing things as I’ve been doing them for quite some time now. Things I don’t think I ever would have given up otherwise. What a blessing! People told me a puppy would take away my freedom, but I haven’t felt this free in a long long time!

    1. Hope the new life as an author is working out better for you than when you first left this comment almost two months ago! So sorry it took so long to reply. Just checked back to verify a link still works and saw that some comments were left about a week after my guest post went live. Thought about not replying at all so late after the fact, but just couldn’t leave the comments hanging unanswered.

      Sometimes blessing come in very unexpected packages! I’ve always heard that pets can extend life, but never read anything about extending freedom. So glad it’s working out for you. But you’re so right about routines. Life was meant to stretch us and provide us with learning opportunities to inspire and sometimes force us to change and develop, smoothing out our rougher edges. And wile some of that stretching doesn’t feel very good at the time, we can develop attributes that adds to our happiness like nothing else could.

      Thanks for the great comment, and please forgive the late reply! :)

  15. Thank you for your thought provoking words. Finding and exhibiting happiness is often a challenge for many. I have recently found that setting boundaries in my life has led to greater happiness in my life. My article on “setting boundaries” speaks to many of your points. http://wp.me/p1xcXR-eu

    Brad Bullington

    1. Thanks Brad. Just checked in and found a few more comments were left after I thought they had stopped. So this is my nearly 2-month old reply. Lol!

      Setting boundaries can certainly help happiness for those who have people in their lives who push too excessively on what’s proper or if we have been largely without boundaries, letting others push us further and further into the corner of our own lives. So glad it’s working out for you. And so glad my thoughts helped provoke your own!

  16. I agree with everyone. Your words are definately inspirational. I have been reading this blog and everyone’s posts and I just want to say thank you all for the enlightenment you have provided. My mind, my heart and my eyes have opened so much you can’t imagine.
    Thank You!!!!!

    1. That means so much to me,Janae. Thank you so much for you kind and thoughtful words. It’s always my hope to inspire and be of benefit to lift us all to higher ground.

      PS: Sorry for the delayed response! :)

  17. what advice do you give to someone who feels empty and numb to life after years of unhappiness.

    So detached from life they feel like they are in another dimension. So worn down there is next to zero stimulation and activity in ther brain

    1. Hi Steven. Sorry for the delayed reply to your comment. I haven’t peeked back in to check on comments is quite awhile. You ask a great question.

      There would have to be some preliminary questions that would need answering before I could give a comprehensive reply. I would need to know what has led to your current state of despair. What your past was like and how long things have been this way. I would also need to know if you’ve been checked for clinical depression. We are, among other things, biochemical beings. And just as some peoples DNA is such that they are sightless and others limbless and some people’s systems simply don’t produce enough of those chemicals that stabilize or elevate our moods. I this is the case, then competent medical treatment is important.

      So, how you would answer those questions posed above would significantly alter my reply.

      Still, I’ll take a shot at it. Just know I’m going in blind. Also given the context of this reply and shooting a shotgun blast into the very broad topic hoping to hit something helpful, none of my answers will be very comprehensive. Having said that, here’s my reply:

      1. We all know that childhood pain can significantly stand in the way of our happiness. That pain is difficult to deal with. Redefining ourselves away from the old scripts and labels that may have been part of that environment is a good first step (even if not easy. But the next step is harder still: forgiving those who did you wrong.

      2. Act as if. Some people worry about being authentic. I don’t. At all. Here’s what I mean. I think acting AS IF you were happy (the smile, the lifted chin, the long stride and fast gate, the posture, the activity happy people engage in) before we really are is similar to me as learning a foreign language. We don’t worry about the inauthenticity of someone speaking French or Spanish before they’ve mastered the language. So with happiness. It is, in a very real way, a new language many people haven’t yet mastered. So practice it. Take the dance steps even when they don;t feel natural. And guess what. They will start to. And then you won’t have to think much about authenticity. The more you act a thing, the more authentic an expression that thing becomes.

      3. Get outside and walk. Try something new. Diversify. Do one thing for a little bit. Then read. Then play some music loud. Then write a poem. But do each of these things focused on the activity. Don’t go on a walk, walking slowly, sadly, head downcast, thinking of all your problems. Lift your head, walk briskly, and just enjoy being outside. Listen. See. Feel the breeze or the warmth or the coolness, whatever it is.

      4. Change perspectives. Try to see things from a different point of view. If we hold on to our problems, keeping them up close, all of life gets obscured by that thing we never remove from our line of vision.

      5. Believe you matter. Find purpose in what you do and meaning in life. This one needs its own post in and of itself, but to begin thinking about such things can be helpful.

      6. Set goals and work toward them. Personal growth is an expansive activity. Unhappiness is constricting. So expand you knowledge and skill-set and character.

      7. Serve. Get out and help others. Volunteer and become a blessing to others.

      Okay, this is a good beginning. I’ll try to remember to check back here over the next several days to see if you’ve read this and have anything else to add. I would also humbly recommend visiting my site as well as searching here at The Change Blog. I have a series on happiness that goes into the 4 components of happiness (thought, belief, character and action) more deeply.

      I hope this helps, Steven.

      And God bless.

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