Chasing Happiness: 7 Steps to a Happier and Less Anxious Life (Part Two)

This post is part two of the three-partChasing Happiness” series.  Click here to view the rest of the series.

4) Delve inside the Cocoon

A caterpillar inside a cocoon doesn’t give a dang if it’s sunny or rainy or windy or hailing rocks. It focuses on what it has to do inside its cocoon, regardless of the weather, so it can emerge as a beautiful butterfly.

The same concept holds true for happiness.

Although outside forces can sometimes prompt anxiety, they are not the main way to quell them. Nor are outside forces the key to making yourself happy. Regardless of what you may believe, you will not find true happiness with a new car, a new boat, a new pair of shoes or a brand new computer. The real keys to happiness are internal, not external.

It’s all about attitude.

When you have a crummy attitude, even the most glorious sunrise, meal or situation can be drag. The opposite is also true. When you have a positive attitude, even the rain can be a joy. Review some of the aspects of your life that you happen to dislike to see if it’s really the situation or your attitude that that is making you miserable.

Work is typically a good example, since we spend so much time doing it. Let’s say you’re always miserable at work and you blame the work. But it’s highly possible that it’s not the work at all that disturbs you. Maybe you think it’s something else in the environment.

Perhaps you have a beef with one of your coworkers. Maybe you don’t like your boss’s pushy nature or the demanding work culture with its corporate dress code. Maybe you’re ticked at the chair you’re always stuck with, the one with the broken spring.

Now let’s say you get new duties, the coworker you resent is fired, your boss is transferred out of state, you’re allowed to set your own deadlines and someone bought you a brand new ergonomic chair. You’d suddenly be happy, right?


Unless you shift your internal attitude, it doesn’t matter where you are or what surrounds you, you’re going to be miserable. This is a prime place where we often fall into the trap of grabbing for the external to make us happy. Chasing happiness doesn’t come from the outside stuff, it comes from within.

When you’re irritable, distraught, anxious, or otherwise tearing your hair out, it’s often because you are not willing to accept something that’s going on around you.

Accepting something as it is can work wonders, and it may not be as tough as it seems. And just because you accept something does not mean you have to like something. You can accept it and still not find it wonderful, but you can certainly change your attitude about it. This works double wonders when it’s an external situation or thing that you could not possibly change in a million years.

You can always change your attitude about it.

How to do it:

Start with awareness. You can’t change your attitude about something unless you realize it’s your attitude that’s getting you down. You could switch jobs, coworkers, bosses and office chairs for the rest of your life and still be unhappy unless you are aware that the problem is coming from within, and not without.

Focus on the positive aspects of the situation. Know when a person acutely bothers you, very often you are seeing a part of yourself in the person and it’s a part you don’t particularly enjoy. A pushy boss, for instance, may get on your nerves because you recognize that same pushiness you use with your significant other. Ouch.

Continue with acceptance. Accept your boss is always going to be pushy. Don’t battle with the pushiness, but find ways to let it slide off you. If your boss is pushy with everyone, you can try not taking it personally. In fact, don’t take anything personally. Remember that a person’s actions often come from their own internal attitudes and in reality have absolutely nothing to do with you. For real!

Polish it off with change. You can’t change your pushy boss, but you can change your own pushy nature if that’s why the pushiness is so repulsive to you. Practice patience and tolerance on the home front. Practice patience and tolerance at work. Change the way you deal with the pushiness.

If whatever you’re doing is not working, try another tactic. Let the pushiness serve as an example of what you do not want to be. Begin to see it as comical rather than tragic. Just please don’t laugh at loud, especially in your boss’s face.

If you’re having a tough time attempting to change your internal attitude about an awful situation or thing, make the quest a kind of game or personal challenge. Try to find at least three positive aspects about a seemingly intolerable situation. Come up with five to 10 positive aspects and reward yourself with quality time doing something you love. Write them down and keep score. Practice them going forward.

You’ll find it can be a game where everyone wins.

This post is part two of the three-part “Chasing Happiness” series.  Click here to view the rest of the series.