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The Quickest Route to a Happy Life

photo: Wonderlane on flickr

photo: Wonderlane on flickr

When it comes to being happy, what’s your approach?

Do you take the material route – cars and yachts and fancy clothes?

Or maybe you’re an experience junkie – chilling on the beach in Cancun or zip-lining in Costa Rica.

Or perhaps you’re one of those spiritual types – meditating for hours, repeating the perfect mantra that will align your eyeballs with your chakras.

There are many ways to happiness – material, experiential and spiritual. And while each way will buy you some time in Happy Land, all of these approaches, even the spiritual one, can be limited.

Here’s the problem.

It all starts with grammar. (For those of you who slept through English class, fear not! I’ll be gentle.)

photo: Kheel Center on flickr

photo: Kheel Center on flickr

When we introduce conditional phrases into our lives, we set ourselves up for misery.

Check it out:

If I only had a better-paying job, then I’d be happy.

Or this: If only I lost XX pounds, then I’d be happy.

Or this: If only I meditated more, then I’d be happy.

photo: Betty Nudler on flickr

photo: Betty Nudler on flickr

­­­In conditional phraseology, we express an idea that is dependent on a specific condition. If this happens, then that can happen.

It seems so harmless, doesn’t it? If and then are such small words.

But they create big results.

They create lives where happiness is perpetually out of reach. We take a vacation and we’re happy for a little bit. And then we’re not. We get a new job and we’re happy for a while. Then we’re not.

Same with everything we do, even spiritual practice.

What’s a Goofball to do?!

Lately I’ve been trying a brand new thing. It’s pretty radical, so bear with me.

To keep things in familiar territory, I’ll express it in the conditional: If I make happiness my only goal, then I’ll be happy.

photo: Sundaram Ramaswamy on flickr

photo: Sundaram Ramaswamy on flickr

There are all kinds of ways to do this, but in my case I put being happy in my Magic 5.

Yes, I really did just say that. And it really does make sense.

Here’s how it works:

Every night, Melissa and I do a practice we call the Magic 5. After listing things we’re grateful for, we list five things we’re going to be grateful for in the future. (You can read more about the Magic 5 practice here.)

We’ve had amazing results with the Magic 5. Big things, little things, seemingly impossible things. We put them in the Magic 5 and let the Universe do Its magic.

A few weeks ago, I realized that the ultimate goal of everything I put in the Magic 5 is happiness. So I figured, Why not just cut to the chase and put being happy in my Magic 5. (See, now the sentence makes sense!)

So now, every night I say:

I’m so grateful that I’m sooooo happy! No matter what I’m doing, I’m happy! Every day, I get more and more happy. I’m grateful for my life and I’m sooooooo grateful that I get to enjoy it sooooo much. Being happy rocks!!

photo: syamly on flickr

photo: syamly on flickr

The instant I started putting being happy into the Magic 5, I noticed a difference. Not a huge, lightning-bolt difference. More of a slow and subtle shift in the Happy Direction.

I started to notice that I was appreciating everything more. I was looking around at the trees and being happy that they were there. I was paying attention to my body and expressing appreciation for the way it carries me through my days. Even when something was seemingly boring, or frustrating, it was somehow less boring and less frustrating than it was before.

I’m actually amazed that it took me so long to catch on.

Like I said, there are many different ways to make happiness your only goal. For me, the Magic 5 seems to be doing the trick.

If you’ve got other techniques to move Happy to the front of the line, I’d love to hear them!

photo: Micah Sittig on flickr

photo: Micah Sittig on flickr

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10 Responses to The Quickest Route to a Happy Life

  1. Sherry April 1, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    Another Great Blog, Z! I am going to try The Magic 5!

    There was a recent Tiny Buddha post that I really like. It’s titled “How to Wake up Every Morning on Top of the World.” Written by Srinivas Rao. It’s all about setting up your day as soon as you awake. Srinivas says that whether we say it out loud or to ourselves or not – we are asking ourselves questions – such as “Why didn’t I go to bed earlier?” “What am I going to eat?” Stuff like that.

    Instead, we should be asking quesitons such as these as soon as we wake up:

    “What do I have to look forward to today?”
    “What’s absolutely perfect about my life?”
    “How can I make today absolutely awesome?”
    “What’s the best thing that could happen today?”

    I believe -by using questions such as these first thing in the morning and then using the Magic 5 at night will Rock my Day!

    Thanks, Z!

    • Z Egloff April 4, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      Hi Sherry,

      Yay for the Magic 5. Let me know how it goes!

      I love those start-your-day questions. Those are so awesome.

      I agree with you that starting the day with those and ending with the Magic 5 – your happiness and joy will be unstoppable!!! :)

      XOZ

  2. Kat April 1, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Dear Z,

    Being happy does indeed rock!

    I love the quote you gave us in this message. I have added it to my google calendar, so I can be reminded about happiness a couple of times each day.

    Listening to Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ song brings me immediately into a space of happiness…the song is upbeat and asks us to “clap along if happiness is your ‘truth’.” I know it’s my truth when I hear that song, and find myself singing it to myself throughout the day.

    What I love most about it is that it’s from a childrens movie, which means kids are being exposed to the concept of happiness as a healthy, positive way to feel!

    Bountiful Blessings,
    Kat

    • Z Egloff April 4, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      Hi Kat,

      I LOVE that Pharrell Williams song. One of my friends from ministerial school posted it on my wall as an encouragement to get through senior exams. It worked. I’ve watched it a bunch of times and it never fails to make me, well, happy! I love that you point out that kids are getting these kinds of messages too. What a difference that makes – to them and the world they are shaping.

      Thank you for your comment! :)

      XOZ

  3. River April 1, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Hi Z,
    I just happen to think that I am happy always anyway cuz that is my Divine Self rockin’ out like always. Its like our friend Rumi who talks about seeking not after love but all the blocks to love. Just put happy in there where the word love is too! We are hard wired for joy so heck happy is easy!
    So when I am not happy(ok..it *does* happen rarely) being grateful is what removes those ole blocks. It’s kinda a short cut back to where I know I belong. I do like the idea of being grateful in the future…feels good/resonates. So thanks again for another great practical piece of Z wisdom!
    Love and hugs,
    River

    • Z Egloff April 4, 2014 at 11:31 am #

      Hi River,

      Yeah, your Divine Self is a bad ass – rockin’ out around the clock! I agree with you that gratitude is a wonderful way to get to happiness. Having a regular gratitude practice has amped up my happiness to rockin’ out levels as well.

      Love and hugs back atcha!

      XOZ

  4. Karen April 1, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Happiness rocks! Isn’t it nifty that the planet seems to be taking notice that happy people are healthier, more productive workers, make more of a (joyful) contribution in their respective fields, and live longer?

    The happier we are feeling, the more lined-up we are with our every joyful Inner Being, who sees everything through intensely-tinted, rose-colored glasses. And when we’re lined-up, we have access to the wisdom and love of that Inner Being and the power that creates worlds. Not too shabby.

    Abraham has been encouraging us to live by the motto, “Nothing is more important than that I feel [emotionally] good” and then keep ever adjusting and fine-tuning our thoughts to make it so.

    Everything we’ve ever wanted comes to us through the open valves of happiness, and happiness comes one thought at a time.

    Thanks, Z, for another thought-provoking post.

    • Z Egloff April 4, 2014 at 11:30 am #

      Hi Karen,

      Yes, I love it when they do fancy scientific studies and prove what the metaphysicians have been saying all along – consciousness is creative! Think happy thoughts, have a happy life. I like this phrase of yours: “the open valves of happiness.” Yes!! What a wonderful way to live.

      Thanks for your comment! :)

      XOZ

  5. Mary April 2, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    I love this!

    • Z Egloff April 4, 2014 at 11:28 am #

      Yay!!! :)

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