The Plague of Happiness Ever After

by Henrik Edberg

The Plague of Happiness Ever After
Image by ericmcgregor (license).

Note: This is a guest post by Vlad Dolezal of An Amazing Mind.

Once upon a time, a poor peasant heard that the princess of his country was looking for a husband. The old king was getting very old, and the kingdom was starting to desperately look for a heir.

So the peasant set out to ask for the princess’ hand in marriage. When he arrived at the palace, he found out he will have to compete with several other peasants to prove his worth as the next king.

The night before the competition, he went to buy some food.

“You look worried young man.”
“Yeah. Tomorrow, I’ll be competing for the princess’ hand in marriage. Of course I’m worried. When it’s done, then I’ll be able to relax.”

And the next day comes, and the peasant competes with the others, in a long day of traditional disciplines, devised to test his worth as the next king. The disciplines include such gems as throwing pitchforks into moving targets, and taming an angry boar with only his bare hands and a length of rope.

(That’s quite a ridiculous way to choose the next king, but hey. It’s tradition.)

And the peasant emerges victorious, and everybody celebrates, the princess rewards him with a kiss, and they retire into the princess’ private chambers.

“You look worried, my dear.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“What’s wrong? You just won my hand in marriage!”
“Yeah, I still can’t quite believe it’s real. When we’re standing together at the altar, a week from now, and say our vows, then I will finally believe it and be able to relax and be happy.”

A week passes, the marriage takes place, and the newly crowned prince retires into his private chambers with the princess.

“You look worried, husband.”
“Yeah. I would really love to help the people of this country, your old father is no longer able to rule properly. But my hands are tied. I can’t do anything while he’s still alive. When he dies, then I will be able to help our people, and I will be happy.”

A few months pass. The old king dies. The whole country mourns for a week, and then goes about its business as usual.

“You look worried, my lord.”
“Yeah, there are unrests in the border regions. When I’ll dealt with those, then I will be happy.”

So he deals with the unrests. And then a dragon attacks the country, and the new king bravely fights him off. And then plague comes, but the king smartly manages to contain it and cure his people. And then there’s drought, and then floods, and fires and storms, locusts, invading armies, ingrown toenails…

Eventually, the king finds himself on his own death bed. The royal scribe comes to see him.

“You will soon die, my lord. Do you have any parting words of wisdom you would like to share with the next generations?”
“It’s about bloody time. My whole life has been one catastrophe followed by another. When I die and enter the afterlife, THEN I will finally be happy…”

***

So many people focus on happiness ever _after_.

“After I get my degree, then I will be happy.”
“After I start earning $100,000 a year, then I will be happy.”
“After I retire, _then_ I will be happy!”

And like the peasant in the above story, they end up chasing the ever elusive “after”, but never actually reach it.

There is no happiness in the after. The happiness is in the NOW! As the old saying goes:

“Tomorrow never comes. Because when it comes, it’s today again.”

Don’t make the same mistake as the peasant. Stop looking for happiness in the future, and instead savour everything you already have. Happiness is already with you. You just need to tap into it.

Pause to smell the proverbial roses along the way (although here in the city, the only things along the road I could pause to smell are… well, let’s just say you wouldn’t want to smell them.)

Errrm, as I was saying… think of roses.

Right now, just slowly breathe all the way out, and take a deeee-ee-eep slooo-ooo-oow breath in. Then breathe all the way out, through your nose, even slower than you breathed in.

Good!

And I’ve got a quick exercise you can do right now to get really happy! I call it “3 Simple thing I love about…”

Just pick an area of your life. Any area of your life. Could be your work, or your family life, or your car, or the room you’re in right now. Then simply make a mental list of “3 Simple Things I love about [blank].”

Here’s my example:

3 Simple things I love about living in the UK

1. The bus drivers – I’ve never seen such happy and satisfied bus drivers before. It’s probably got to do something with the fact that over here, we always greet the bus driver when we get on the bus, and thank with for the journey when we get off. It’s great to see such people as bus drivers enjoying their jobs.
2. The non-smoking bars and clubs – I love being able to go out with friends for a night out and return home with my clothes still smelling fresh.
3. The awesome British and Irish accents – ’nuff said.

The “3 Simple things I love about…” is a great quick exercise if you ever find yourself bored, like in traffic or in the checkout line at the grocery store. It instantly annihilates the boredom, and fills your life with happiness.

Do it right now! Pick one area of your life, and list 3 Simple things you love about it.

There’s no happiness in the “after”. So enjoy the now!

Check out Vlad’s blog to get even more happiness in the now! It’s got psychology, personal growth, and a crapton of attitude!

If you like this article, please share it on Twitter or Stumbleupon. Thank you very much! =)





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{ 24 comments }

Christian Cullen April 14, 2009 at 6:55 pm

This was a great read ! Thanx so much for taking the time to spread and promote happiness wherever possible . 4stars

Rob D. April 14, 2009 at 7:14 pm

I like the article. I think many people especailly Americans assume the know they reached their goal or dreams when there is no more conflicts or trouble events in their life anymore. Of course that is impossible. I still catch myself thinking if I complete this or that everything will be better for now on. Maybe that is the fault of movies that show people living happily ever after.

Matthew | Polaris Rising April 14, 2009 at 7:24 pm

This is a wonderful story about living in the present moment. There really is no future. Even when we think about the future, it is still an expansion of the present moment.

And the irony is, our joy and happiness is related to how fully we are in the present moment. Even in the midst of struggle, when we are here now – fully – there is joy. It’s a joy in the struggle that has to do with it not being a battle at all, but a celebration that we are fully living.

Marc and Angel Hack Life April 14, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Awesome insight as usual.

I wish everyone in the states had those cool Irish and British accents. ;-)

Stumbled.

CC April 14, 2009 at 11:00 pm

I like the message, but the story is a bit flawed in my opinion. The first thing I noticed was that the peasant accomplished so much during his lifetime. In the story, he fought plague, locusts, invading armies, and dragons, etc. But it sounds like the peasant is not given enough credit for his dissatisfaction. If he were already happy and content, would he have worried about his people’s suffering and did all the things he did? Perhaps. But I think you need some kind of feelings of unrest in order to be motivated to complete a goal. What does everyone else think?

Vlad Dolezal April 15, 2009 at 1:07 am

@Christian:
Cheers!

@Rob:
Ya, I also still catch myself thinking I’ll be happy AFTER something :p. Then I remind myself to be happy NOW while still aiming for that goal.

@Matthew:
I heard an interview with an old lady that even at 80 years of age was skippy and full of energy. When the interviewers asked to what she owes her happiness and energy, she answered:

“Every morning, I pray to God that he gives me plenty of challenges during the day ahead. And he always delivers.”

:D

@Marc:
I can totally imagine one-upping each other with an American…
“We are the richest country in the world.”
“So what, we make the best baked beans!”
“Well, we have Obama!”
“That’s nothing. We have British and Irish accents!!”
“… Okay, you win.”

Yeah, I’ll keep on dreaming :)

@CC:
That’s one of the most common arguments I hear from people who are always unhappy and dissatisfied.

I can’t speak from personal experience, because I haven’t quite reached the place of total bliss yet… but Tony Robbins, one of the most successful motivational speakers, says that when he’s fully happy and content, he’s actually able to provide MORE value to others! His drive to help others only increases with his happiness.

Jacqueline Johns - Your Happy Life Mentor April 15, 2009 at 3:25 am

You said it!!
There’s not a darn thing we can do about the future or the past.
There are no guarantees that when we finally win the lottery, we’ll be happy. There is only one guarantee, and that is you can CHOOSE to be happy now. Wherever you find yourself, the choice is still available to you to be happy, or not. This moment is all we ever have, oh, and the choice to enjoy it or not. Which do you choose?

Live Life Happy!

Sun-shine April 15, 2009 at 6:24 am

as Mary Poppins once said:

SUPER CALIFRAGILISTIC-EXPIALY-DOCIOUS!!!

Amanda April 15, 2009 at 11:11 am

:o ) Ditto to Matthews comment if i may! :o ) Thank You x

Mark Foo | TheBigDreamer.com April 15, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Hi Vlad,

I love the story! Or I should say I love the moral of the story. And thank you for telling it so well. :)

Cheers~

Mark

Vlad Dolezal April 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm

@Jacqueline:
Are you a motivational speaker, by any chance? :)

@Sunshine:
I totally agree, whatever it means.

@Amanda:
You’re welcome!

Positively Present April 15, 2009 at 2:48 pm

LOVE this post. It totally clicks with my site and it’s focus on “living happily ever after now.” Happily ever after is a waste of time and, unfortuntely, we’re trained to think like that from a very young age. If we learn that now is all we have and that now is the time we have to be happy, we will be a lot better off in life.

I wrote about a similiar topic on my blog. Check out “This IS It” here:
http://positivelypresent.typepad.com

Nadia - Happy Lotus April 15, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Hi Vlad!

I love this post and the message of it is so true. People always think happiness will be found when they reach a certain point that they are working towards. I used to think like that but, like you, I realized that happiness is in the moment and seeing the positive in all that surrounds me. The mere fact I have Internet access that lets me communicate with people all over the world is pretty awesome and something to be happy about…as is walking and having good health! :)

JDH April 15, 2009 at 3:32 pm

This is a great article, and very timely for me. It reminds me of a news story, wish I could remember where I read it, about a woman who was over 100 years old. She was asked what was one thing that she could share that she learned in her long years….she said that almost everything that she feared or worried about never came to pass. That blew me away because I really recognized just how true that is.

Anyway, awesome article!

CathD April 15, 2009 at 11:15 pm

Great post, Vlad. We all make happiness conditional by saying “I’ll be happy when…” But happiness is just a feeling and we can have all the feelings we want right away – even as we work on changing our life circumstances. This is a simple, yet very powerful exercise you suggested – thanks.

Cath

Vlad Dolezal April 15, 2009 at 11:16 pm

@PP:
As I already told you when you commented on my blog, I love your blog’s tagline :D

Everybody reading this: Live happily ever after now!

@Nadia:
Cheers!

@JDH:
Yeah, as Montaigne said:

“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.”

;)

Sun-shine April 16, 2009 at 3:51 am

Watch Mary Poppins!
She is the epitome of –Enjoy Now
—————Make Every Moment Happy

You,ll know what I mean

Cheers to all!!

Ricky April 16, 2009 at 6:08 am

Love this post so much. The lifestyle of the king is resemble to most of our life. It is well known that people always say “Tomorrow” or “Next Time”

Vlad Dolezal April 16, 2009 at 3:17 pm

@Mark:
You’re welcome, sir :)

@Cath:
Spot on!

@Sun-shine:
Okay, I’ll make sure to watch that.

@Ricky:
You remind me of an interesting phenomenon. Often in the comments after a profound blog post, a lot of people will simply rephrase the blog post, without adding anything.

First I wondered about that. Then I realized that whenever I’m learning something, before I really understand it, I need to rephrase it in my own words. And say it out loud.

So today, whenever I see a comment like yours, I think “There’s someone who gets it, and they’re making sure they really understand it by ‘saying it out loud’”.

So, cheers for that!

Alan Frost April 18, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Thankfully, put off my happiness was a mistake I realized early on. This doesn’t mean I don’t fall into the trap of putting off my happiness until later, but when I do, I usually pull myself out pretty quickly. I wish it was the same way for procrastination though. Sigh.. :)

Lisa Illichmann April 20, 2009 at 7:51 am

Thanks for the nice story.
Lisa

Vlad Dolezal April 24, 2009 at 11:20 am

@Alan:
Awesome! Glad to see somebody else discovered this principle before me :)

As for procrastination, I actually developed a free course on my blog for overcoming it. Have a look. (click on my name above this comment to go to my blog).

@Lisa:
You’re welcome. Maybe I should give up my career as a personal development writer, and go into children’s stories? :)

Liara Covert May 28, 2009 at 12:53 am

Things happen due to apparent synchronicity. This is how the mind explains it. Yet, soul would say it just feels right. To find this blog does not make a person happy because happiness exists within all. Happiness is also a journey, not a destination. It is like the skin that covers your body, always within reach, always “there” yet so obvious that it is often overlooked. Films like teh Bucket List remind people that happiness is not a place, a person or a thing you have yet to know. It is a feeling you evoke as you realize you are worthy, loved and deserving. That is every moment of every level of existence. This blog is extraordinary, like everyone everywhere, yet not everyone chooses to accept fundamental truth and with meekness.

happiness July 6, 2010 at 9:57 pm

I’m a fan, such a potent message, though hard to practice at times…But, when we finally do get the hang of being happy where we are now, happiness doesn’t have to be elusive and neither do the goals we set our sights on. Thanks for sharing.

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