Quick Key version


by David Truman

It's easy to grow, and it's not even hard to get happy. After all, there are things you know you could do, anytime, that would lift you up, and make you genuinely happy. And everyone wants to be happy, don't they? Hmmm . . .

Sure, we definitely want to be happy, but there's one thing most of us want even more: to stay in the realm of the old and familiar -- our "comfort zone." Yes, even if it means being less happy. And as often as not, that's exactly what it means.

It's human perversity that when happiness grows in us, we tend to feel uncomfortable. We may even think that if we get any happier, we'll explode, and disappear. Consequently, when we're extra happy, we tend to reach for some kind of happiness trimmers. We do something negative right after doing something positive, or something UNhealthy following something healthy. We eat a box of cookies after two days of killer workouts; or get overly concerned right after feeling extremely joyful. We're "re-stabilizing," yes?

But that limits our happiness -- on purpose! So if happiness matters, we need to rethink the habit of using those happiness trimmers.

Offsetting positives with negatives

Trimming happiness isn't like trimming hair -- it's more like adjusting the temperature in your shower. There are things that bring us up, and other things that keep us down. Too hot? Turn on the cold. Too cold? Turn on the hot.

And interestingly, as we adjust, we don't achieve a true balance -- we just switch from one unhealthy extreme to the opposite, from one insufficiency or another. Binge and purge: date too much or too little, eat too much or too little, etc. And happiness is always limited that way. The answer?

1. Find the path of healthy moderation, and walk it.

2. Go for true balance.

True balance is not in extremes, but in wholeness. After all, we are broad, multi-faceted renaissance people. We're not, for example, working stiffs, dysfunctional nutballs -- or any other extreme. When we become hyper-specialized or hyper-focused, we suppress many facets of our own being. But we can't be happy if we won't let ourselves be who we are -- our wholeness.

Maybe you sit on the side of a dance hall and watch the dancers with envy. You're thinking, "I could do that," but you won't let yourself do it. If your choice has been to ignore or reject parts of yourself, parts upon which your happiness depends, think again! Choose to take back your missing parts. Regain the happiness that is native to who you truly are -- and keep it!

And in general, if you want to be happy, lay off those happiness trimmers!