Negativity can come from all corners of our lives—even from the people and things that we believe will bring happiness. We want financial security, so we get a job. We want people to talk to and hang out with, so we make friends. We want to feel good about our situation in life, so we buy the things we think will bring that satisfaction.
But, here’s the truth: None of those things are guaranteed to bring you happiness. In fact, our pursuit of money, popularity, and power can actually breed more discontent.
Now, I consider myself a pretty happy person (although that wasn’t always true). In fact, I get a ton of questions from strangers about happiness and work-life balance, and I am regularly met with skepticism from the people I know when the topic comes up in conversation.
I’m a positive person, and people recognize it. I’ve had people ask me if it’s fake—an act that I put on as part of my “brand.” In their minds, that kind of relentless positivity can’t possibly be real.
My response, however, is that it’s not a matter of real vs. fake. It’s about making the decision to live with a positive mindset. It’s a result of removing the noise and the negative influences that breed unhappiness.
I think it’s on us—especially those of us who have a platform—to spread the message of that positivity. Whether it’s at work or in our home lives, each of us bears responsibility to shape our environment and lead through our actions.
It’s all about understanding a couple of key principals. These principals changed my entire outlook on life and helped me become who I am today:
- Anything that is out of your control should never impact your mood.
- If your expectations are realistic, you’ll never live another minute unhappy.
It’s that simple.
Recognizing the Circumstances You Can Control—And Those You Can’t
Not everything is within your control, and you need to learn to live with that. However, you also need to recognize the things you can control and make a plan that can downplay those circumstances that you’ve been handed.
For example, some people are born into or find themselves in difficult circumstances entirely due to the people in their lives. Although you can’t choose your family or neighbors or coworkers, you can choose how much you allow them to affect your life.
If you have family or friends who constantly complain or bring you down, it’s time to reevaluate the people you surround yourself with. This may mean disconnecting from your family members. This may mean making your circle of friends smaller. This may involve leaving your significant other or changing your career. If people don’t believe in you at the core, you will never achieve happiness because you will always be focused on what others think and distracted from your own happiness.
Don’t get mad at others or circumstances out of your control. It won’t change anything.
You can’t control what other people do or say. You can only choose how you respond.
Balancing Optimism and Realism
I’ve gone through so much in the last 15 years of my professional life. I’ve learned a lot, and I have failed. On the other hand, I’ve also had a lot of success, and that’s because I’ve been willing to bet on myself.
I know what I am capable of, and I set realistic goals to help me get there. I also recognize that failure is part of that path.
While I’ve had some entrepreneurial success, I’ve also experienced some hardships, and I’ll tell you what: Not everyone is meant to be a business owner. You are a prisoner of the moment. It’s damn hard work. If your expectations are misguided by the unrealistic things you see on the internet, you won’t be happy. There’s a lot of buzz online about the freedom and excitement of working for yourself, but that’s a lie. It’s just one way that the happiness we’re promised isn’t necessarily going to work out for every person who makes that choice, which is why we need to set realistic goals for ourselves that focus on happiness rather than material outcome.
So, instead of focusing on the reward—like money, power, and so on—I focus on progress. Each failure brings new understanding, and I recognize it as part of the journey. I’m under no illusion that everything I do is going to be an instant success, but I try to practice gratitude for every small victory. That’s what it means to set realistic goals yet also have a sense of optimism and appreciation in your life.
Life is all about finding what makes YOU happy—what drives you every day to get up and live the life that you live. When you recognize some things aren’t good for you, it’s time to change the expectations of your situation.
Positivity is contagious. It sets the mood of every interaction you have, whether it’s with a client, a loved one, a supervisor, or a stranger. When you start practicing positivity and viewing the world with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for who you are and what you have, you’ll start to find people around you doing the same.
Positivity is the key to building a great business. It’s the key to connecting with people. It’s the key to achieving the perfect work-life balance.
Positivity is the gateway to happiness.
That is what you need to work for.
Success in both your career and in your personal life will come from happiness within.