I asked, “Are you really Indiana Jones?”

I have a friend who is light years ahead of the happy curve. In fact, he’s figured out the “secret” to happy by living unapologetically, expending a healthy amount of intense focus in his chosen career, diving deep developing his emotional intelligence, playing hard, and enjoying everything he’s attracted into his life.

He is a great example of living well because as it’s been said “life is not a dress rehearsal.”

The coolest part of this is he didn’t come to this revelation after some sort of major health scare or tragedy, as many people do. He just observed others and learned. He is unafraid to explore the possibilities of life…even when what he’s doing scares him to death!

He dares to test the theory that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

In fact, when you push past your self-created limits you may, in the end, have the time of your life, have great stories to tell, and walk away with a new view of this beautiful world in which we live.

My friend chose his work and his lifestyle rather than his work choosing and choking him off from the lifestyle he really wanted. And, he gets the biggest thrill out of sharing what he’s learned so others can have what he has: Happy!

I love that!

I love to surround myself with people who are dreamers and doers. Not afraid to turn dreams and “what ifs” into their reality. Walking their own path, even when other people think they’re nuts!

Nuts…not because they are mentally unstable (in most cases *wink). But “nuts” in the sense they dare to do what so many others wish they had the time, resources, energy…balls…or freedom to do.

Another friend was telling me about a recent trip to Costa Rica. He drove through the jungle in a jeep strapped with surfboards and climbed a volcano. This guy literally ducked under the rope that blocked the path to the volcano, walked past the “If you climb this volcano you might die” sign, climbed with hot rocks shooting past him, just to have the experience.

I asked, “Are you really Indiana Jones?”

He smiled a little and said, “maybe.”

What my friends share is a “secret” to happiness and freedom many of us only dream of having “someday” when the kids are grown, the bank accounts are bigger, the work is shorter, and the time is longer.

Have you ever asked, “How can I have that now?”

5 Myths for a Happy Life and How to Turn It Around

1. If he/she just did this…I would be happy!

This is a big one!

Life is filled with relationships and when someone is not doing something you expect them to do it’s very easy to fall into the trap of believing if they changed (and gave you what you expected) then everything would be hunky dory!

The truth is: You can’t change anybody…ever!

And when you try…bad things can happen! Chances are, who they are right now is exactly who they will be forever. Maybe in different degrees and variations. But ultimately, the same. The decision to change in any way is, ultimately, up to them. Just as our personal desire to change is, ultimately up to us.

What you do have control over is how much or how little you let what other people do or don’t do affect your own decisions and your own happiness.

In some cases, you will avoid “life as it is”…aka reality, and hold on to life as you want it to be, simply because the idea of making changes seems too hard at the moment.  In other cases, it’s ego. You try to save face because for so long you have been living a lie. Playing happy. Smiling for the camera. Settling for what looks good on the outside, yet is empty on the inside.

That’s completely understandable. Change can be scary. But change can also be exciting and liberating and the perfect remedy to a life that is “stuck” or a version of reality that is just not real. Or healthy.

So what can you do? First of all, be kind to yourself. Life is a journey of learning. And often a journey of healing.

Sometimes that learning helps you blossom into a stronger version of you. A happier version of you. You stop blaming and start living. You stop seeking validation. You embark on a journey of discovery.

Self discovery.

While on that journey you may realize that other people are not going to change simply because you hope they will…want them to. That’s not their path. And you may also come to realize that forcing someone else to change is not healthy…for either of you.

In other words, you’ll discover that while seeking out healthy relationships is good; painting an unhealthy relationship with bright colors is not. On some level, this feels sad; on another level, it leads to freedom.

You’ll understand that your happiness is up to you. It’s something you have complete control over. Then, making a change won’t seem so scary.

You will finally have a healthy response to life as it is. The moment you can do that, life shifts. People and opportunities you have unknowingly been blocking from your life because you have been trying so hard to make someone else change into something they never intended to be, will show up in ways you never thought possible.

Don’t believe me? Talk with the woman living in a shelter, her beautiful face scared by the hateful knife of a past relationship who feared her walking out. Look into her determined eyes as she fixes her hair and carefully applies her makeup which only partly cover the scars. Listen to her voice, a little shaky, as she practices what she will say at the job interview she is preparing for. Then hug her as she takes a deep breath and walks out the door towards a better opportunity. An opportunity she chose as opposed to to the former life that kept her imprisoned. Watch her as she takes the first steps to becoming who she needs to be in order to attract the best people into her life. A woman who will not settle…

If she can do it; why not us?

2. I could do [insert bucket list item here] if I had more time!

Have you ever noticed how some people can get a ton of stuff done in a day, week, or month…and others have to muster all their energy just to crawl out of bed and get the coffee made?

Maybe you swing from one side of that equation to the other. Have you ever stopped to wonder what the difference is? What is the difference between the times you are super productive and the times you can barely get through the day?

Here’s the truth: Every person has the same 24 hours in a day. Those who get more done share the ability to work with focused intent, are passionate about what they’re doing, delegate or dump the time-wasters, and are very clear about their priorities and values.

There are plenty of books and courses about time management. You could easily spend a decade learning how to manage your time! But, you don’t need to waste 3,650 days of your precious life figuring out how to manage time.

Simply decide on one thing you want to do, and then do it.

  • If you want to write a book, then spend 20 minutes a day writing that book.
  • If you want to learn how to cook, then cook one new recipe every week.
  • If you want a better relationship with your spouse or your kids, do something every day/week/month to add to your relationship bank.
  • If you want to travel more, and don’t have the time or resources for that “once in a lifetime” trip, then draw a 100-mile circle on the map surrounding your home town and explore!

Every little step you take ultimately leads to something new. You won’t know where it leads or what opportunities will unfold until you start the journey.

3. Someday I will [insert activity here]

Sometimes, “someday” never comes because “someday” can quickly turn in to “never.”

You can easily drive yourself into the land of unhappy when you constantly focus on something without taking the necessary actions to turn it into reality. Research has shown if you don’t do something within a short period of time…sometimes seconds…you’re never going to do it.

You can think, “OK, today is the day I’m finally going to XYZ” and then when you don’t do it chances are very good you never will.

Part of this is because you sober up! 😊

Part of it is because you were just telling stories to make other people happy.

And part of the reason is because when you tell yourself stories over and over with no action, even your brain stops believing you!

This can cause a lot of stress because other people may have believed you and hung their happiness on an action you will never take. (go back to step #1)

It has something to do with the Law of Diminishing Intent which states that the longer you wait to do something, the greater the odds you will never actually do it. Jim Rohn coined the phrase, and John Maxwell used it in the book “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth”

In other words, “You can’t build a life on what you intend to do.”

And you shouldn’t build your life on what other people tell you they intend to do.

The longer you wait to do something, the less enthusiastic you’ll be about doing it.

Sometimes this is a good thing and can help you avoid doing something that is ultimately bad for you. I always say, never make a long-term decision based on a short-term emotion.

Other times, procrastination and fear do hold you back from happiness.

How do you know the difference between procrastinating because it’s bad for you and hesitating because you’re afraid?

Ahh…. that’s the million-dollar question!

I would suggest it has a lot to do with understanding your core values and your priorities.

For me, it’s very easy to say “YES” quickly to things that are aligned with the life I want to live, say “NO” to things that are detrimental to my goals and morals, and say “NOT NOW” to things that sound interesting, but may not fit into what I’m working on in the moment.

That last one is important because it eliminates the temptation of “shiny object syndrome.”

This doesn’t mean I’m always right, it just means I’m much happier because I’m making decisions and taking actions, rather than being unhappy about things I didn’t do.

4. If only I had [insert object here] I would be so happy!

This is a prominent hope in our world of consumption. We dream if we have a certain car, home, bank account balance, body, career, dress, purse, golf club, whatever…then life would be perfect!

And, it’s true that nice things can be nice!

However, when you hang your happiness on “things” then what happens when those things disappear from your life?

For too many people, their happiness disappears too.

People tell me I’m always happy. Even strangers will comment at the sparkle they perceive in my eyes.

This isn’t because life is perfect or filled with all the bling a gal could ever dream of. Just like you, I get sad, angry, and frustrated. But even with those other emotions…I’m still happy. Life is a wonderful mix of experiences. And most of them are nice.

Nice, for me, could be a great conversation, witnessing something beautiful, watching people achieve a dream, spooning, waking up healthy, having people in my life who I love and who love me, a great meal, a glass of wine, dark chocolate, a text from the people in my life I love, and feeling full with gratitude as the sun sets on the horizon at the end of the day.

It could also be a spending spree or a spa day…!

Have you ever looked back to your childhood and said, “Gosh, I was so happy!”

And then, you realize that what made it happy was not the size of the car or the number of rooms in the house, but perhaps that five-cent ice cream your grandpa bought you at the drug store, the bike with the bell on the handlebars and cards in the spokes that clicked when you coasted down the neighborhood hill, that 4th of July with an endless supply of sparklers and watermelon, that camping trip where the entire family slept in the same tent and you couldn’t wake up early enough to make hot chocolate and bacon over the open fire.

What you have right now is “enough” to be happy. The trick is to see it and be grateful.

Gratitude breeds happiness.

5. I’m feeling stuck…but I’m not ready

At any given time in life, we can feel stuck. Stuck in a job. Stuck in a relationship. Stuck in a town. Or, stuck in a life that we find less than perfect. That’s completely normal and can be a signal it’s time to grow.

We always have a choice about what we do in those times we feel stuck.

The best way to get un-stuck is to move! This is where the growth part comes in. This can be physical movement – going for a walk, run, or bike ride. This may be an actual move – to a new house, a new town, a new country. It can also be an emotional move away from feeling like a victim and towards ownership of your choices.

We always have a choice!

“But…I’m not ready!” you may say.

Guess what, most people don’t feel ready because of fear in its many forms. You may worry there is not enough of something, or you can’t see the outcome.

While it might be easy for me to tell you to face your fears and just go for it, that’s not always helpful. Because it’s scary!

One question I often ask people when they come to me for advice, is this: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

And then I ask them, if that “worst thing” happens, are you okay with it?

If the answer is no, then more often than not, it goes back to their core values. When we are clear about what we value, it’s very hard to cross that line. Sure, we may cross that line for a short time and think it’s good. But when we cross that line for a long time…well, that’s a little harder because we start to lose a piece of who we are. A piece we like…and it causes unhappiness.

Altering your values changes you and brings a deep-down, in-your-soul, sort of unhappiness. It can be hard to see because on the surface, you’re laughing. Smiling for the camera. Making everyone think you’re okay.

When that level of unhappiness pulls at your heart, that’s when God is talking to you. Most often in a whisper. And it’s an opportunity to get back to who you are.

You get unstuck.

For the big decisions in life I usually turn inward and upward first. I pray for clarity, wisdom, and compassion. And then I listen. When you fully embrace and trust your intuition, getting unstuck becomes very easy.

Some people say you should move through the fear. And, that works well for some things.

For me, I’ve found when I take the time to reflect and listen to the brains in my head and the brains in my gut, there is no fear as I move forward in life. I don’t have to ‘face the fear’ because when it’s really right, FEAR is not what I feel.

The transitions are very easy. Fear is replaced by excitement. Doors open even when I don’t know where the key is. I get unstuck and I feel ready.

It’s a little about trust – trust in the universe, God, or whatever name you put on it. And, it’s about faith in those same things, and in yourself.

It’s a beautiful thing.

It makes you happy.