I think the root source of so much unhappiness in the world stems from us buying into value systems we don’t need to.
Whether the relentless pursuit of money, good looks, fame, the need fufil whatever values your parents hold, or getting caught up in acquiring the respect of a crowd who aren’t worth the time or energy to impress in the first place.
These pursuits can become our entire lives if we allow them to. We work and work and wonder why we still feel miserable even when we’re achieving our goals. This is usually because we are moving forward on the wrong things.
Here are three steps to getting out of this self-imposed misery:
1) Seek your own mentors
Find people whom you admire, but also those who share values that matter to you. Look at examples of people who have been successful or happy doing what matters to you.
Whether it’s books, YouTube videos, interviews, podcasts – refer to these whenever you need to be reminded of what’s important, or whenever you feel yourself taken over by the pursuit of a goal that is making you miserable.
Find authors who are kindred spirits. Or someone outstanding in your field who fires you up and gets you passionate about what you do.
It sounds simple, but giving yourself a conversation with someone that reminds you of what’s important, or watching a 2-minute video of a person you love is like an injection of goodness that sets you back on your path and makes you feel inspired again.
2) Choose a better metric for success
Choose goals that will lead to a day-to-day life your actually love living.
In my career, I’ve found more and more that the metric that moves me the most is a drive to pursue excellence and work on things I love.
But if I make my goal about some random metric like having an arbitrary amount of money in the bank, it makes everything seem like more of a grind because it removes my focus from why the work matters.
What really determines happiness is not your goals, but how much of everyday is filled with the activities that fulfil you.
Once I remember what matters to me – having wonderful experiences with friends and family, living an adventurous life, producing work that makes me proud, learning subjects that excite me, pushing myself creatively – it helps me to shut out the distractions from other vain or superficial goals that detract from this main purpose.
3) Stop hanging around people who poison your belief system
The author George Eliot wrote: “There is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside of it”.
If you hang out with money-obsessed people, you will become money-obsessed. If you hang around people who define themselves by how many hours they work in a day, you too will find yourself on the exhausting competitive treadmill of trying to be the world’s most productive (and depressed, and boring) person.
If you spend all day looking at people’s vanity shots on Instagram, you’ll also become vain.
You get the picture.
Our brains generally aren’t strong enough to ward off toxic influences around us. The only immunity to people with bad values is to spend more time with people who have good ones. This is why last week I stressed the importance of finding your crowd.
Part of that just means saying “NO” to bad crowds. Cut out or limit time with people who poison your belief system and you’ll find yourself 5x happier on a day-to-day basis.
Next time you find yourself out of alignment with what matters to you, refer back to these three steps and you’ll be back on the path to creating your own fulfilment, instead of someone else’s.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.