The Truth About Long-Term Happiness

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“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Are you getting the attention you desire, the praise you crave, or the appreciation you believe you deserve? You are a parent. You work hard at your career. You are a good friend. Each day you try, but it does not feel like you are ever fully valued for your efforts.

You may want to change your life in some way, to pursue something else. But you are afraid because you may not succeed. If you knew you would succeed before you tried, you would got for it. But without total certainty that it will work, you are too afraid to risk the unknown.

We think we are after a pat on the back or a change to our lives, but we are actually looking for a certain feeling. We want to feel fulfilled – to feel we are living our fullest potential and that we/our lives make a difference. We just go about it the wrong way.

The solution is to fix the way your prioritize your needs. If you focus on the need to feel certain about success rather than focusing on expanding your capacity, you will never find the fulfillment you desire. If you focus on the need to be seen, to be special rather than focusing on how you serve, you will never find real fulfillment.

Tony Robbins developed, The Six Human Needs. They changed my life and I hope they can do the same for you. Here they are and here is my best effort to explain why they matter.

1. Certainty – We all want to feel certain about what is to come – that we will have success and avoid pain; that water or the lights come on daily. We want to feel like things will happen the way we hope.
2. Uncertainty – Likewise, we need to have some variety; we have a need for change, something different.
3. Significance – We need to be seen, be unique, be special, or be important.
4. Love and connection – We need to have some connection in our lives. We may want love, but some of us settle for connection because we are too afraid of love. That said, we all need some form of connection.
5. Growth – If we are not growing, we are dying. We need to expand, develop, and grow our capabilities.
6. Contribution – a sense of service and serving others.

We all have all 6 needs.. We prioritize them differently in our daily lives. In other words, we spend more time thinking about some over others.

Take a moment and determine which two needs you focus on most. What are your top two?

Do you need certainty that you will succeed before you can begin? Do you need things to be consistent most of all?
Do you need endless variety, without which you bore easily?
Do you need to be seen, heard, acknowledged?
Are you focused mainly on connecting to others?
Are you fearless and focused on the amount of love in your life?
Are you focused on growth, personal development?
Is life all about the amount of contribution you make?

Again, we all need all 6, but what are your top two?

If you are like most people, you focus on certainty and significance the most. To feel fulfilled, you must prioritize and focus on growth and contribution above all else.

The way you rank these needs in your life will directly influence your happiness.

Here is why.

Happiness does not come from purchasing more stuff. Happiness does not come from a moment because moments comes and go. Happiness comes from a sense of fulfillment and fulfillment comes from growing, developing yourself, and helping others.

Every time I want to feel certain that things will go one way rather than another, the stress I feel increases. Fixating on life moving exactly the way we desire only sets us up for pain because we do not control each moment of our days.

Striving to be seen simply backfires. Chasing significance only creates a desperation to be seen. It is like an endless vortex: the need to be seen, to be praised, to be famous, to be viewed as intelligent, or to be talented. No one responds to a demand to be seen, which creates more desperation to be seen. This desperation drives a further desire to be seen and the cycle never ends.

If you want to be seen, place contribution at the top of your list. You will be significant. A sense of feeling important, unique, or valued comes from being in service first. The people we most value in history or now are those who are in service to something greater than themselves. They are important and valued, not because they demand it or expect it, but because they have dedicated their life to something bigger than themselves.

And, when you place growth at the top of the list, you will develop as a person. Nothing is more fulfilling than reaching a new level of personal capacity or finding and unleashing our deeper potential.

Then there is love. Not the love that is guarded, safe, cool, sidestepping the fear of rejection – the love that scares us. The love that may not be reciprocated. The love that may not be seen. But when you love as a priority, love without expectation, love without fear, you can never lose.

So here is my answer for long-term happiness. Develop your skills. Place those skills in service of others or the world. And love until it hurts.

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