If there’s anything I’ve learned in my short time on this planet, it’s that your day to day happiness is largely determined by your “default” mode.
The highs of life get you high, the lows of life drag you down, but eventually, we always return to our status-quo, our equilibrium, our default mode.
All of our studies on happiness show the same thing. People who receive a large chunk of money experience a steep temporary rise in happiness, and then eventually go back to the same baseline that they previously had.
Same thing for traumatic experiences – people who lose limbs and become paralyzed and things like this experience temporary depression – and then eventually go back to the same baseline that they previously had (many of them actually happier – but that’s for a different discussion ;).
Whatever your mind was like BEFORE the highs or lows of life, is the biggest factor in what your long term levels of happiness or satisfaction in life will look like.
It’s a mindset. What do the predominant thought patterns in your life look like? Do you have a happy dialogue going on in your mind or an anxious or stressed out or sad one?
It’s also cumulative. You BECOME happy after years of cultivating a happy mind. You BECOME sad or depressed after years of cultivating a depressed mind.
Your mood has momentum, and the more you pay attention to that momentum, the more you will realize that your happiness or sadness in life is a direct result of that momentum.
Events and experiences don’t change your long term levels of happiness, your cumulative mood does.
This is why chasing success doesn’t work. Chasing goals and accomplishment doesn’t work. It won’t provide you with the happiness that you’re looking for.
You will eventually reach that goal, that objective, that mission – experience a temporary rise in the level of happiness in your life – and then go right back to where you were before.
So if you were anxious and stressed out before you reached your goal, you will probably be anxious and stressed out even once you reach it. You will have a brief moment of bliss where you relish in your accomplishment, and then life largely goes back to the way it was before.
We must become masters of our internal world, instead of reacting to the external “dramas” that arise on a day to day basis.
If you pay attention to the dialogue in your head, the feelings that you experience, and your reactions to external events, THIS is how you notice your current baseline. From there, focus on cultivating momentum in a positive direction on a daily basis.
Meditation helps too. Nothing like sitting with yourself in silence to notice the default thought patterns of your mind!
You don’t want a new car, or a new job, or more money, you want the FEELING that is associated with receiving these things.
I believe that we should focus on the feeling first. Focus on cultivating a healthy default mode even when we don’t have the things around us that we desire.
If you can do this, you have truly mastered your internal world.
Also published on Medium.