In the journey of life, we are busy and it is easy to be and stay distracted.
It is the daily norm for us to encounter numerous things and people that vie for our attention, whether they be tests to see how we will react, routine business we need to attend to or steppingstones to further our vision of our unique legacy plan. When I write about a legacy plan, it is in the context of personal development set against the necessary legal and financial documents in place.
Thus, among the myriad of emotions we feel in a day, that guide us as an unconscious pattern, the priority to be happy and notice what makes us happy stands out as a powerful force capable of inspiring resilience, creativity, and a sense of purpose. This article explores the profound impact of happiness on our ability to overcome obstacles, stress and disappointments as well as how harnessing this emotion can lead to the fulfillment of your legacy plans that can set the stage and foundation for a life of no regrets.
To begin though, let's define the word happiness for clarity.
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle." - Steve Jobs
The Essence of Happiness
Happiness is a complex emotion that goes beyond mere moments - it can be the thread that connects the memories of our life as well as the momentum we ride energetically to go to the next goal in forward evolution. It can be a deep and abiding sense of well-being that transcends external circumstances, such as in our ability to trust ourselves to grow beyond our comfort zones of the past and that the world is safe and good.
While happiness often depends on external factors, it can also be an internal state of what we choose to notice in perspective or slowing down our minds. It can also be intentionally created by cultivation: mindfulness, gratitude, and/or a positive outlook. We all know the world is not always safe or good, but we can choose to still see what is good and what works.
Accessing your happiness can also involve connecting with the core of your authentic self, looking for the meaning in your experiences, and embracing the present moment with a sense of appreciation. In the context of your legacy, your happiness can be the fuel to keep transforming in the goals you reach and the writing of new goals each week in the higher levels of awareness around what can be possible. Yes, individuals can and should write their intentions into their will or trust documents in estate planning... but you can also commit to a daily routine of reflection where the answers (in journals) can be passed on:
What is it that you found most meaningful yesterday or last week? If the answers don't come quickly, they didn't for me either ... eventually, it became clear that the ability to work from home or in the hours I want bring happiness, along with misty evenings of fog during daily walks, getting to live with dogs and having the time to explore happiness to even be able to write about it. So write down the most meaningful experiences of your week and what you most appreciated. Even if just to connect with your authentic self, beyond productivity. These nuances are the connection points that bring your legacy plan and vision to life, to 3d reality, as you develop it - even the commitment to design your legacy becomes a part of the creative process that you show yourself and others re: what's possible.
"Joy is the simplest form of gratitude." - Karl Barth
The Creative Power of Happiness
Happiness can spark creativity by opening your mind and heart to new possibilities and perspectives. When the 'secret sauce' to successful legacies are communication and trust, your happiness can be the foundation to your confidence to initiate new conversations. These conversations can be with new people in venturing beyond your comfort zone as well as existing relationships to strengthen them or be more authentic in them.
When individuals experience happiness, their brains are more likely to engage in divergent thinking, problem-solving, and innovation. When we look at the number of celebrities as well as affluent individuals whose estate plans weren't enough to satisfy problems after their passing, this is the opportunity now to hold and have those conversations for connection and understanding.
This creative space and these surges can allow you to approach challenges with a wider outlook, turning obstacles into opportunities for growth and allowing everyone in the room to be seen, heard and understood. By infusing happiness into your daily life and lifestyle, you can design a legacy that reflects your ingenuity and ability to overcome obstacles with resilience ... you and others can feel that energy shift or emotion in your actions and in documents. *These documents can be governance related or content in your hardcover coffee table book.
Your happiness matters for a variety of reasons: it connects you with what's already inside of you, it allows you to resonate with people and activities outside of you that bring you happiness, it increases the meaning of your daily experiences, and allowing yourself in lean into moments compared to rushing to the end of the day, or the week, or your life.
It, happiness, also increases your life force energy, it builds your self-esteem for when those challenges do come, it increases your capacity to be present and generous with abundance thinking, and it allows you to better handle and process stress when problems and tragedies do arrive.
"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." - Albert Schweitzer
Inspiring Others Through Happiness
What if you could be with life right now, in the whole of the experience, without needing to change anyone or anything? What if the emotion of happiness can expand your capacity to do this? You will still have your expectations but you also can see another view when your ideal of perfection may not be available.
A fulfilling legacy extends beyond personal achievements even if we live in a culture that rewards professional and social advancement (anyone see the Gilded Age?). A holistic, values-based legacy involves positively impacting the lives of others and happiness is one key that can change the trajectory of your life's story no matter how trying the current circumstances are. Happiness is also contagious, and when individuals radiate it, they inspire those around them to think beyond boxes, biases and past stories of limitation.
By sharing the experience of happiness, people can uplift and motivate others to face their own challenges with courage and optimism. A legacy built on the foundation of happiness, as a value, can become a beacon of hope, encouraging others in your circle and future generations to approach life with a sense of wonder, gratitude, and resilience.
When you can allow the feeling of happiness to come in, you can be more connected with yourself and the present moment ... no matter the level of trauma or deception in your history. Happiness can also increase your self-worth and excitement for life, even when there are 1,000 paper cuts. So what makes you happy and what diminishes, or blocks, it? How can you see yourself happier and what is the cost of not feeling more happiness in your life?
"The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up." - Mark Twain
Living a Legacy of Happiness
Accessing happiness is not only a tool for overcoming the day to day grind as well as wounds such as betrayal, and things outside our control, it is also the 'secret sauce' of designing a legacy that endures. When individuals prioritize their decision to be and find happiness in their days, they cultivate a positive and fulfilling existence that extends to the contributions they make to others. A life lived in happiness creates a legacy built on optimism compared to resentments - the decision to want to notice and get in touch with what is happy about your life, including the birds that sing in nature, is a game changer to develop your life into one that is well-lived, marked by authenticity, compassion, and a profound impact on the lives of others.
If you aren't sure where to begin, the following five insights offer clues and can be your starting list of what could be blocking your happiness (or more of it!):
Being pulled in many directions where you can't feel into the present moment to notice the sunshine or wind or what it is around you that gets overlooked;
Only seeing the negative to be consumed by it in a lack of hope;
Being an overachiever or not having boundaries around your time or resources - overwhelm and taking on too much can not allow space for happiness because of being spread too thin;
Not being able to do the things that bring you happiness - whether this is due to limiting beliefs that you could never sing on stage with karaoke or with a lack of encouragement from those in your life to try new things in a fear of change, etc.
Being triggered by fear if you allow yourself to be so vulnerable as to be happy compared to 'just existing' - whether this is culture-based with your family or workplace or never giving yourself permission to be and feel happy in deserving it. Many people can live predictable lives in the safety of their emotional prisons and can't see that they need to leave the front door and get out more often. The more you can take personal agency of the present moment, the more space there can be for happiness.
"Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day." - Henri Nouwen
In the face of life going by so fast in everything that demands our attention, happiness is a transformative force that has the potential to shape your legacy with added elements of resilience, creativity, and inspiration. When my grandparents and great grandparents passed away, there were inheritances but nothing qualitative in terms of values or stories written down - or what made them especially happy in life and why! When problems arise or when you feel like an island in the pressures of life, this data can be the inspiration of how to look at - how to frame life - when there is no other options than to be strong.
If you feel your happiness capacity is low these days, whether it's due to stress or any other reason, I will close with six effects to the cause of not allowing happiness to be present in your life:
Time lost year after year in how you could be positively experiencing your life;
If space abhors a vacuum, then more negative feelings can become the norm in allowing low frequencies to fill us in what we give access to;
The less our capacity to be patient with others or kind in understanding their human experience;
The less effort we make to be connected with others in reaching out by phone, physical greeting cards with wet ink signatures in personalization, remembering to wish others happy birthday even if its just through social media, or planning pre-designed experiences.
The loss of ourselves in remembering the songs we love, or lighting a candle during dinners, or even what our core vs. aspirational values are - to live into them, that it's still possible to connect with what brings us happiness vs. rushing through life;
Our internal resourcefulness to handle and have necessary but difficult conversations to emerge better for facing problems compared to avoiding them or passing them on. When we forget that we can experience happiness, and it does happen to people, there's a dullness, a grayness, to life when it doesn't have to be this way.
By embracing happiness, individuals not only navigate challenges thrown at them with themselves left intact but also they can actually get around to learning about and living into their values - which is the basis for a designed legacy in an intangible treasure worth its gold. Your lasting imprint on the world may be that you choose to be happy and shared how you did it year after year.
When we strive to build legacies that transcend time, let happiness be the guiding light that fuels your endeavors, inspiring functional relationships and positive change for generations to come.
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