5 Surprising Things That Happen When You Stop Expecting Achievements to Make You Happy
This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.
We tend to seek happiness in the wrong place.
“As soon as I get that promotion, everything will be great.”
“When I find a husband I’ll finally be happy.”
“My worries will be over when this business starts making money.”
We’re seeking happiness in achievement, which never works.
Detach Happiness From Achievement
Achievement is important to humans, but it’s a result of happiness; not a cause of it. We expect that when our business reaches a certain revenue level, we will be happy. We expect that when we accomplish certain goals or our personal situation is in a certain state, we will be happy. This doesn’t work.
Get comfortable with the idea that you could (if necessary) be very happy if only your basic needs (food, water, shelter, clothing) were met. Think of the power that would give you. You no longer have to worry about money because you don’t depend on it for happiness. Here’s the really cool thing. Since you detached your happiness from that single outcome, now it’s much more likely to become true.
When you no longer look to achievement for happiness, these five surprising things happen.
1. You lose your ego.
Most negative feelings, like sadness, anger and fear come from ego. When someone challenges what you say, and you get that uneasy feeling, that’s ego. Your ego is threatened. Ego is how we define ourselves. Any time that definition of who we are is threatened, our ego is threatened and that makes us uneasy. Sometimes that means anger, hurt feelings, or distain for the person who threatened our ego. None of that makes us happy. Having absolutely no ego means having no resistance to external circumstances.
2. You become fearless.
When you’re completely relaxed and not hanging your happiness on any certain outcome, everything changes. Your happiness no longer depends on things like money, relationships or business goals. That doesn’t mean you don’t have goals and you don’t work hard to achieve them. It does mean you’re not dependent on any specific outcome of those goals for happiness. The dependency on a specific outcome to be happy creates unhealthy obsessions and prevents you from enjoying life. Since you have decided that happiness does not come from achievement, you no longer rely on it to be happy. Now fear takes on a whole new face. Fear of being broke? Not really a problem. Fear of not becoming a millionaire? Fear of not meeting business goals? Not a problem either. Fear goes away.
3. You don’t regret anything.
Never regard anything as a mistake. There are no mistakes or failures, only lessons. Regard everything that happens as a step on your journey. Remember, you are not attached to any certain outcome, so it’s just another step. Whether you decide to call it good or call it bad, either way it is a step on your journey, taking you to the next place in your life. The outcome teaches you a lesson, alters your approach, or helps you redefine your destination. When you no longer have fear and no longer regard anything as a mistake, you have no regrets.
4. You are honest.
When your ego is gone, you have no reason to lie, manipulate or even bend the truth. You’re free to relax and tell it just like it is. You have nothing to hide! Generally when we are not being honest it’s because we are avoiding something that we’re afraid of. Maybe that’s something we are ashamed of, some inadequacy we perceive in ourselves or some outcome we are really dreading. All of those basically go back to fear and ego. If you have no fear and you have lost your ego, what is there to lie or mislead about?
5. You be yourself.
People really are spectacular. People are interesting, dynamic, intelligent beings with great ideas. When we aren’t being ourselves, we hide all that spectacularness. Were guarded in what we say and do because we are afraid other people won’t like us. Even if it’s subtle, people see through it and don’t like it as much as they would like the real, interesting, dynamic, intelligent person who is behind that false persona. Relax and be yourself. You have nothing to lose except your ego — which is a good thing to lose.
Here’s the best part: When you detach happiness from achievement, these five things that happen are the key ingredients to success. Disconnecting happiness from achievement is the best way to achieve anything.