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.
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!