“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold. Happiness dwells in the soul.”
Do you sometimes feel like you should be happier with all that you have accomplished?
From the outside you are the picture of success – with money, status and stuff – but on the inside there’s a big ball of angst, disconnection and emptiness that make happiness seem just out of reach.
You used to think that success and its privileges would bring lasting contentment and fulfillment, but now you doubt if that’s ever going to come true.
Well, here are some reasons why you are not happier despite having money, status and physical items.
1. You’ve been seduced by glossy images of beautiful people.
Do you already have a good car and now want an even more luxurious one?
Have you been thinking about buying a bigger house in the tonier suburb even though your current house is perfectly fine?
Do you have a great partner but you can’t seem to stop criticizing all of their little flaws?
Madison Avenue and Hollywood images of the good life make many of us believe that the secret to happiness is to buy more stuff, make more money, get thinner, have a beautiful partner and find the right “Joneses” to hang out with.
Just like wrinkle creams sell the hope of turning heads, images of beautiful people adorned in designer goods taking five-star vacations sell the hope of happiness and fulfillment.
Unfortunately, your appetite for more and more can’t seem be satisfied because you are trying to fill the emptiness inside of you through something outside of you.
So let me ask you…
have you ever had a lasting “high” through emptying your wallet to buy more stuff you don’t need, with money you don’t have (because you’re so overleveraged), to impress people you don’t like?
Hmm . . . I have a feeling the answer is “No.”
Don’t be seduced by advertising and cinema images of the good life. Celebrities shouldn’t be idolized. If you are not happy right now, it’s important to “work on yourself” to discover the real reasons why you are not as happy as you can be.
2. You feel inadequate if you don’t keep up with the “Joneses.”
Have you ever felt pressured to buy designer goods, buy a beach house for the sake of bragging rights or find a more attractive partner just because your friends did?
Do you ever get jealous or feel like a frump when your best friend loses weight and gets more attention?
Do you ever feel like a failure when your friend’s kids got into elite schools and your kids didn’t?
Well, you’re still living like you’re in high school.
The only difference now is that the stakes are higher and the characters have wrinkles and gray hairs and have trouble zipping up their skinny jeans.
If you don’t keep up with your peers, this can remind you of the times you were rejected by the cool kids in school because you couldn’t keep up with them. Since the psyche doesn’t want the pain of the old shame to get stirred up again, you’re driven to spend mindlessly to prove to yourself and to others that you’ve “arrived.”
Find a new tribe that is not caught up with status. A tribe that is passionate about giving back to the community may be a better fit for you. By serving others, you can significantly increase your happiness and fulfillment.
3. You can’t take your mask off.
Do you feel lonely despite having lots of social media “friends”?
Are you sick and tired of listening to the same shallow ‘one-upmanship’ conversations at social gatherings?
How many real soul-to-soul connections do you have where you can peel your mask off and share your deepest fears, hopes and dreams?
When you don’t have an outlet to be vulnerable, you can feel very lonely despite being the social butterfly that gets invited to all the soirees. Most of your peers are as lonely as you are and they are dying for real heart-to-heart connections too. They are just waiting for someone else to go first to initiate the vulnerable conversations.
Identify acquaintances you would like to get to know better. Invite them for coffee or lunch. Look for an opening to ask questions such as, “What makes you happy? What are you afraid of? What are your goals? Why are these goals important to you?”
4. Your insecurities drive your overachievement addiction.
Did anyone ever make you feel you are not good enough?
Are you trying to unconsciously prove something to someone through your accomplishments? Who negatively affected you the most growing up?
Your mother or father?
Your sister or brother?
The bullies that shamed you?
The teacher that embarrassed you in front of the class?
Childhood devaluing experiences can make you succeed beyond your wildest imaginations, including driving you to obtain designer diplomas. These parts of you are unconsciously trying to show the people that hurt you, “Look at me, I’ve proved you wrong. I am smart enough and I am worthy.
All of us are hard wired to seek approval because our #1 core human need is . . . to be validated . . .to be seen as someone special, extraordinary and worthy.
To overcome the underlying insecurities, access that part of you that feels I’m not good enough. Update this part that is still frozen in time on how much you have accomplished. Let this part know that the people that made you feel inadequate can no longer hurt you now because you have adult resources to handle criticism, rejection and failure.
When this I’m not good enough part feels heard and loved by your highest loving self, your insecurities and your need for outside validation will diminish.
5. You’re in emotional jail
What are you afraid of if you do shine the flashlight into the dark corners of your emotional closet?
In order to unleash your most extraordinary self, you need to go back into the past to unburden the negative energies from significant emotional events.
This is very important because:
Not making peace with the past can result in undesirable behaviors and feelings such as addictions to alcohol/shopping/work, anger, irritability, need to control, arrogance, shyness, depression, anxiety, sadness, numbness, lack of confidence and low self-esteem.
Not making peace with the past can contribute to health challenges such as cancer, heart disease, thyroid problems, gastrointestinal pains, obesity, autoimmune diseases and chronic pain.
Not making peace with the past can show up as conflict-ridden dysfunctional relationships.
Not making peace with the past can hold you back from breaking through the “glass ceiling” to the next level of your success.
One of the deepest and most powerful (and gentle) way to release the past is through the Internal Family Systems modality of psycho-spiritual healing and self-leadership, developed by Richard Schwartz, PhD.
I have seen miraculous results using this protocol. You can learn more about it and take yourself through the steps in my book How to Permanently Erase Negative Self-Talk So You Can Be Extraordinary.
You are the only one that has the key to get out of the emotional jail you have locked yourself in.
If you cannot cope with life and are severely depressed or addicted, please seek the help of a licensed mental health provider.
If you are psychologically healthy and you want to go from good to great to extraordinary, a coach may be the better fit for you. To find an Internal Family Systems practitioner, go to www.SelfLeadership.org.
6. You bought into the “myth of more”
Have you ever been guilty of thinking . . .
“If I just make more money, I’ll be happy.”
“If I just buy a bigger house, I’ll be happy.”
“If I just find the love of my life, I’ll be happy.”
“If I just get rid of the last 15 pounds, I’ll be happy.”
You must have goals, but your happiness cannot be tied to those goals.
You must be happy first before you reach your goals.
-Law of Paradoxical Intent
You are fooling yourself if you keep thinking that improvements in health, wealth, status or relationships will finally be the ticket to joy.
You’ll get that temporary dopamine high and then come crashing down shortly thereafter to your old state.
Then you rationalize that the goal wasn’t big enough and you set an even bigger goal. “I will finally be really happy with the accomplishment of this goal!” So you keep running on the exhausting success treadmill where the “off” button is nowhere to be found.
Unfortunately, money, status and stuff (or the perfect soul mate) don’t have the power to make you feel happy and “whole.” You are the only one that can make you feel happy and “whole” through self-love and believing in you 110%.
Being happy first is what will help you materialize everything you want with relative ease.
If you are not happy now on the journey to achieving your goals, go inward and ask yourself what events from the past are keeping you stuck from happiness today? Why do you need something outside of yourself to be happy?
7. You don’t love yourself unconditionally
Can you look in the mirror and say, “I love you so much, you are perfect just the way you are!”
If the answer is “No,” then it means that the parts of you that are still burdened with the negative voices and energies from the past are preventing you from loving yourself.
When you love yourself, the inner conflicts, insecurities and negative self-talk can significantly diminish and your self-image will soar.
When your self-image soars, this energy will magnetize higher quality people to you. There is a saying that “your vibe attracts your tribe.” And these new friends can connect you to the right people and the right opportunities for your next level of success and fulfillment.
Invest in your personal development. Your personal and professional lives will only grow to the extent you invest in yourself. To engage in deep transformation work you will need to find a mentor, coach and/or therapist you really resonate with.
If you are not as happy as you’d like to be despite looking like you “have it all,” then it’s more than likely the burdens of the past are what make you feel like crap even though nothing seems to be wrong.
If you keep the door to your cluttered emotional closet locked, these forgotten “skeletons” will come back to haunt you and show up in your present realities through the states of your health, wealth, relationships and emotional well being.
You can master the joy of living through investing time and energy to explore your inner world and do the work to feel really good about yourself from the inside out. Then, more money, status and stuff can be the icing on the happiness cake.
Now it’s your turn…