One of my favourite films from Will Smith is The Pursuit of Happiness. If you haven’t seen that film I totally recommend that you watch that film, it’s a really powerful film based on a true story.
It just demonstrates what somebody can achieve when they set their heart on something, in terms of a goal. They can overcome, and circumvent, and drive through any challenges that come their way. The lead character in this film had so many challenges in his way it was just incredible but it demonstrated to me that it is when you achieve a level of happiness that you actually get to contentment. I believe this is what we’re all aspiring towards, to have these lives that are contented, to have contentment in our lives, and to be at peace with ourselves.
Happiness means to be content in two key areas of your life. To be content with goals that you’ve set yourself, the goals that set the direction of travel, of your journey, and throughout life that you take. Also, to be happy with where you are right now. One can’t be achieved without the other in my opinion. You cannot be happy with the goals, you cannot be happy with the journey that you’ve set yourselves on unless you are truly happy with where you are right now.
That, for me, is having demonstrated that attitude of gratitude for everything that you’ve got around you right now, and to view the world, have a paradigm that is so different to anyone else. I’ve talked about goals so many times, but yet many people in life don’t even have goals. They have no sense of where they’re going. They have no sense of a direction, a destination that they’re heading towards, and consequently what happens in life is that they meander through life quietly without any sense of direction, without any compass, and they get lost in life.
When they get lost in life it can lead to depression, it can lead to sadness, it can lead to frustration. It can lead to so many negative emotions because you’re simply not happy. You cannot possibly be happy unless you know that you’re actually walking towards a destination that you’ve pre-set for yourself. That is the art of goal setting. Now, very often I will say to my clients, make sure that your goal is so big that it scares you, make sure it’s so big that others don’t understand it. Certainly, my goals are huge, and people don’t understand it, but make sure that the goal is something that you can understand yourself, that’s the key thing, that you can understand yourself.
How do you do that? How do you set a goal that is so scary on the one hand, and yet is so achievable on and understandable to you on the other hand? Well, it’s simple. You work your way backwards from that goal. You set yourself a number of milestones right up to the present day so that all you’re ever really focusing on is the next milestone, and it feels much more achievable. It’s the same concept that we use in any kind of project management.
When you are working on a project and you set yourself this huge goal to transform whatever it is that you’re transforming, you will always set in place a number of milestones, and you may put some dates to those milestones. You can do this for your own life. Set yourself some dates, and say, “I need to achieve this milestone by this date.” It gives you sense of accountability, it gives you a sense of focus, and it gives you a sense of direction.
The second part of contentment is this being content with where you are right now. Many of us have this constant nagging feeling that we should be doing better than where we are right now, and with what we’ve got. We compare ourselves to each other and we perceive ourselves to be failing in some kind of way. We then focus on that perceived failure and try to change our present by setting goals for the future. So, we just muddle through, muddle through life because we’re constantly reacting. We are reacting to the perception that we have of life right now.
If that perception that we have of life right now is a flawed perception, in that, we think that we’re not where we should be. We’re not happy with where we are, we’re not recognizing all the great things around us, we’re perceiving that our life is a failing life, then consequently we’re not going to be in a really powerful state of mind to be setting those goals in the first place. So, strip yourself right back, and this is about having that attitude of gratitude that we very often talk about, and I certainly practice it in my life.
This is about noticing all the great things happening in your life right now, and I’m talking about it almost at a cellular level, at a macro level. Look at every simple thing, every little thing that’s going on in your life right now that’s good. That makes you happy, that serves you, and be appreciative of it. That way you can never truly tell yourself that you’re failing in life. Then, start looking at bigger things in life that are working for you, that are taking you in the right direction, that are serving you on a daily basis.
Do you have the house? Do you have a car? Do you have a great relationship? Well start appreciating those things. Do you have the ability, let alone set the goals, do you have the ability to set goals in the first place? Of course you have. If you have a mind you have the ability. So, it is about recognising that within life you can never be a total failure. Then, when we talk about failure in life, if you are failing at something that simply means there is an important lesson to learned here. A mistake will only ever remain a mistake unless you learn from it, then it will become a lesson.
If I were to go to a college, or a course, or to a coach to learn what I learn from a failure, it may cost me thousands of pounds. Yet here I am, the universe is delivering these failures, these lessons to me for free. So, I’m appreciative of those lessons. Every single failure that I have helps me grow by a centimeter, a millimeter, or an inch on a daily basis. We are all on the search for contentment. Contentment will come when we are truly happy with our lives. When we are truly happy with our lives that is when we’ll be at the most contented state of mind in our lives.
To achieve true contentment we need to be happy with the goals that we set ourselves, and we need to be happy with where we are right now, because if we’re happy with where we are right now we have greater power. We are in a much better state of mind to be able to set the goals, or much better goals, much more valuable goals, and much higher quality goals for the future.
There are two aspects to contentment. One is to set yourselves powerful goals, so you have a sense of direction in life, so you know where you’re going in life. You’re not meandering like a lost lamb in the journey of life. Secondly, to maintain this level of happiness with what you have right now, where you are right now. To be mindful in the absolute present right now, and to be appreciative of everything that you have around you. To maintain and develop this level of attitude of gratitude, because when you are in that state, that beautiful state of mind, that is when you are going to be in a better thinking state.