A Guide to Shameless Happiness

Will Ross

 
 

The Top 5 Missed Opportunities for Happiness

Are you missing out on happiness?  Most of us want to be happy.  But every day millions of people miss the opportunity to be happy.  These are opportunities that are easy to find.  Yet time after time, day after day many people fail to take advantage of them.  Are you one of them?

What are these opportunities?  Let's take a look.

Time alone.  The time you spend by yourself is a great opportunity to be happy.  Think of all the fun and creative things you can do when no one else is around.  Yet many people are miserable when they’re on their own.

Time with friends and family.  Friends and family can enrich our lives and provide love and companionship that we can't get on our own.  But for many people their relationships with their friends and family are more like a war zone.

Time with a special friend or lover.  Most of us have a number of friends and acquaintances.  And we also have one or two people with whom we are particularly close.  The time we spend with these close friends and lovers can be among the happiest times of our lives.  Yet many people miss out on this opportunity for happiness by constantly arguing with their lover.  Or worse, many people don't have a "special someone" in their lives.

Time at work or school.  Most of us spend a large chunk of our waking hours at work or school.  Your career and education give you the best opportunity to engage in rewarding activities.  But too many people find their work to be a drudge or highly stressful.  They get very little satisfaction from their work.

Recreation time.  When you're away from work or school you have ample opportunity to go out and have fun, to do the things you really enjoy doing.  Yet many people squander their recreation time by doing too little with it or doing things that are ultimately harmful.

You have the opportunity to be happy every day.  But if you're like most people, you probably don't make the most of these opportunities.  It's time to make a change.  It's time to grab these opportunities and squeeze every ounce of happiness that you can from them.

Yes, you have many opportunities to be happy.  But let's be realistic.  It's not always easy being happy.  We seem to have an unending list of unpleasant jobs to do; we have bills to pay and not enough money to pay them; we get sick or lose our jobs; and we have people in our lives that are difficult to get along with.

On top of that, we live in a world of tragedy: earthquakes, famine, poverty, pollution, crime, violence, war, corruption, greed, unemployment, bigotry, disease, racial and religious intolerance, hurricanes, and homelessness, etc.

In the face of all these difficulties, it's not surprising that so many people are miserable much of the time.

The philosophy of shameless happiness is that you don't have to be miserable.  Shameless happiness is a commitment you make to yourself to refuse to be miserable, while unapologetically and unreservedly making yourself happy at every opportunity.  Shameless happiness is the pursuit of an ethical, rewarding, and joyous life that is guided by compassion and reason.

Do You Recognize the 2 Early Warning Signs of Long-Term Unhappiness?

There is no doubt about it.  Life provides many opportunities for happiness.  But there is also much to be sad about.  While sadness is understandable and appropriate, many people go beyond sadness.  Many people show the early warning signs of long-term unhappiness.  What are these warning signs?

The two signs that show someone is headed towards a lifetime of misery are (1) unhealthy negative emotions and (2) self-defeating behavior.

Unlike other animals, humans experience a wide range of emotions.  Some emotions, such as happiness and excitement, are positive.  Others, such as sorrow and grief, are negative.  As well as being either positive or negative, our feelings can be appropriate and healthy or inappropriate and unhealthy.

Healthy negative emotions are an appropriate response to negative events. They let you know that something is wrong and they encourage you to make positive changes in your life. But unhealthy negative emotions have no beneficial side-effects.

Here's how you can tell if you are experiencing an unhealthy negative emotion:

  • Do you feel much worse than the situation really calls for? For example, do you feel depressed instead of sad, afraid instead of careful, enraged instead of annoyed, hurt instead of disappointed, ashamed instead of regretful? 
  • Do your feelings push you to do things that are unhealthy or that get you into trouble? For example, do you smoke, drink too much alcohol, or over eat?  Do you procrastinate on important tasks or get into unnecessary arguments with authority figures?
  • Do your feelings stop you from doing the things you want to do? For example, do you avoid talking to people you would like to meet; do you put off long-range projects, such as writing a book, because you're afraid of the work involved or the possibility that the end product won't be good enough?

 

In short, unhealthy negative emotions are extremely painful and counter-productive.  Very often unhealthy negative emotions are accompanied by self-defeating actions.

Self-defeating behaviors are actions that harm you or that get in the way of your long-term happiness.  Self-defeating behaviors include unhealthy addictions, unhealthy lifestyle choices such as a poor diet along with exercise avoidance, unassertiveness, a self-limiting social life, wasting money on things you don't need, and procrastination, etc.

If you recognize any of these early warning signs in yourself, then the chances are that you are setting yourself up for long-term unhappiness.

The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way.  Even in this world, with all its troubles, you don't have to be miserable.  You can turn your life around, reach your goals, and be happy – shamelessly happy.

 

This is an excerpt from A Guide to Shameless Happiness by Will Ross. Now available from Amazon!