There is a trap into which many of us fall. This trap is the thoughts that sound something like this: "I'll be really happy when I get that promotion;" "I will feel real joy when I lose 20 pounds;" "My life will be perfect when I own my dream house." If we make happiness a goal, when we achieve it, it is fleeting.
I had an epiphany on a walk today that when we find happiness in all of the little things we do, joy will be more long-term. About 6-years ago, I attended the Positive Psychology course at Kripalu. It was a year-long program that introduced its participants to Positive Psychology. During that course, I was introduced to the work of a lot of the top researchers in the field. I was going through a rough patch in my life. I had lost both of my parents within two years; I was in a job that I hated, and I felt that I was trapped in a cesspool of negativity. Utilizing the strategies that I learned in the course, I was able to start to turn things around.
I started to look for the little things that made me happy, spending time with my friends, playing with my dog, cuddling with my cat, watching a beautiful sunset, being out in nature. In doing this, I was able to increase the frequency of happy moments. I learned to find joy in the little things that were going on around me. I realized that happiness didn't require that I reach a goal or achieve something. All I had to do was look around me, to turn my attention away from my desires and see outside of myself. My emotional set point is much happier these days, and I find joyful experiences every day.
If you find yourself saying, "I'll be happy when..." Focus your attention on the little things around you that make you smile. String each small moment of joy together, as if you were making a precious pearl necklace, then wrap yourself in the joy of your creation. As you do this, you will find that you are happier. When you focus your attention on something, more of that shows up in your life. So focus on things that bring you joy, and create your happy life.