Shortcut to Happiness is the name of movie starring Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. As you can tell from the movie’s catchy name, it’s trying to expose the secrets of happiness. Of course I had to watch it, I felt weak and couldn’t resist. Anyways I’m glad I did watch it because of this very insightful quote that appears throughout the movie:
remember son there’s never a shortcut to happiness
I will not ruin the story and plot of a Shortcut to Happiness, so if your curios I’d recommend watching it, I think it’s worth watching at least once.
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Much of today’s advertising and marketing claims to provide a shortcut to happiness. A magic pill is another name for a shortcut to happiness. I’m sure everyone is familiar with many of the magic dietary supplement pills that were once very popular claiming that they would help you lose 30 pounds in 30 days without you having to change your eating or exercising habits. This is a great example of a shortcut to happiness. What’s the problem with this shortcut? well there are several. As most of us who tried those pills, my self included, can tell you that they never work. More importantly, lets say the pill did work for you without you having to change your eating habits or exercise habits. So 30 days later you are 30 pounds lighter. What will happen once you stop taking the pill? You will gradually gain the weight back because you never replaced your bad habits of eating and lack of exercise with healthy ones. Instead of the pill actually being a shortcut to happiness or weight loss it was actually a detour. I know someone will say well but if the pill works why can’t I just keep consuming it and not have to eliminate any unhealthy habits? You can keep consuming it however it’s a known fact that after 90 days of taking any dietary supplement your body becomes immune to it’s benefits. Even body builders go through different supplementation phases usually 90 days of taking a certain supplement and 90 days without it. Anyways I like this line of thinking so lets assume that your body doesn’t become immune to the dietary supplements benefits, and you now have a healthy weight. Well guess what? Losing weight will certainly give you a spike of happiness however this happiness will not last long. While being in a great body shape will feel great for a few months, it certainly will not solve all of your other problems. Behind bad eating habits and lack of exercise there are usually deeper issues including depression, fear, disappointment, failures etc. These deeper issues will still manifest themselves in all other areas of your life. Now that you also lost the weight, you will become a lot more conscious of other problem areas that you didn’t worry about that much before including your career, your relationships, your happiness etc. If your not convinced, then read You Think Making More Money or Losing Weight equals happiness? Think Again. Next time your are about to order a product or buy something at the store, ask yourself am I purchasing this because deep inside I think it will provide a shortcut to happiness? And then remind yourself that there are no shortcuts to happiness.
The Appeal of a Shortcut to Happiness
It’s interesting that we are constantly looking for shortcuts to happiness. I think for many people, if one was to really get down to what they really want out of life, it would be happiness. Why does someone want financial success? Because the media and everything else tells him it will make him happier. He thinks that by accumulating materialistic thing he will be happy. Why does someone want more exciting and fulfilling relationships with others? Because he notices that he always enjoys the company of great fun friends, and just wants more of that happy feeling. I think for many people their purpose in life in some form or the other is to be happy. It’s very easy to achieve temporary spikes of happiness. However finding and maintaining lasting happiness requires some work. As you can see from the weight loss example I provided earlier maintaining happiness is a dynamic process because once you achieve or own something it slowly starts losing it’s value. Once it loses most of it’s value it no longer makes you happy. Keep in mind this is the same thing that you put days, weeks, months or even years to achieve. After it no longer makes you happy your back at step one looking for what new thing will now makes you happy. This is exactly why shortcuts to happiness seem very appealing.
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Find and Maintain Happiness
Now that we realize there are no shortcuts to happiness, we have to discuss how you really find happiness and more importantly how you maintain it. This is obviously a very deep topic however I have found two commonalities between many of the happy people in my life. I also found that these two commonalities were both true in moments and periods of my life where I was the happiest.
Method 1 – Choose Happiness
Right now anyone can chose to be happy by simply changing what they are focusing on. Everyone has their share of negative issues in their life like problems, failures, disappointments etc. However Everyone also has their share of positive things in their life that they can be thankful for. Try this Feel Great Now 5 Minute Exercise and remember whenever you are feeling down start thinking about what you are great full for in your life, whether it’s your health, your family, your abilities, your skills, your access to today’s great technology and vast amounts of information. Choose to be happy. By choosing to focus on positive things in your life instead of the negative things, you are choosing to be happy. This method of finding happiness works great in the short term. You can use it immediately at any time. However if you have many major problems and disappointments in your life that you are not dealing with, this method will certainly not work long term, this is where the 2nd method comes in.
Method 2 – Maintaining Happiness is an Ongoing Process
Maintaining happiness in the long term is a journey not a destination. You have to realize that to remain happy you will need to work at it a bit on an ongoing basis. Remember there are no shortcuts to happiness. You have to take some alone time and start writing what it is in your life right now that makes you unhappy. Make a big list, and then prioritize all the issues you come up with. At the top of your list should be the single issue that makes you unhappy the most. For many people it might be their current career or job, their current relationships, their current lifestyle or an unhealthy habit. Start taking out some of your free time each day to work on these issues, trying to first solve the one that makes you the most unhappy. Do some research, get professional help, get an accountability buddy or whatever it is you have to do to get it handled. After you start solving this issue you will start building a momentum that will help you fly through all of your other issues and problems.
I will also recommend that you try some new activities that will maybe stretch your comfort zone a little bet. The rewarding happy feeling you will get after getting out of your comfort zone is amazing. I recommend reading the following two posts:
Comfort Zone Zombies – 7 day Challenge
Security Does Not Exist which is Great News
Being a happier person is certainly a worthy cause especially since there are not shortcuts to happiness. Being happier will reflect in all areas of your life, your work, your hobbies, and your relationships. You will notice that your friends will become more attracted to the happy vibe your bring, they will be competing to spend more and more time with you. You will notice that even strangers at times will approach you trying to initiate conversations. You will start discovering new ways to make boring things in your life a bit more exciting, a whole set of new possibilities will open up. You will start viewing life from a child’s perspective full of energy and excitement.