What is the one thing everyone wants out of life? Happiness, right?
Of course. But if this is true and happiness is so important, why is it so hard to find? Or at least it’s hard to find sustainable happiness.
The reason for this, in my mind, is because we are blinded by what the marketing machine of life has told us… we will be happy if…
- we buy a big house
- we buy this new fancy car and than upgrade every two years
- we will be happy is we buy these expensive shoes and this fabulous outfit
- we’ll be even more happy if we buy this big TV and don’t forget cable and all the on-demand programming we can find!
Yes, in the modern world we have found ourselves chasing happiness that always seems to just allude us. Why is that? Well, it is mostly because we do not really understand happiness.
In my life I have had a ton of happiness, but I’ve also chased after the fleeting mysterious happiness via buying all the ‘stuff’ I could get my hands on. I buy music and books whenever I get the itch. I subscribe to many of the on-demand video subscription models. I subscribe to audible. For many years I have lived beyond my means spending like crazy.
I am a self-funded business owner that believes you have to spend money to make money. And let me tell you I spent a ton of money for 20+ years. Pouring dollar after dollar into my business. Not all bad, but I can say I burnt a lot of cash chasing the ‘dream’.
About 8-years ago, my business hit a rough patch, I had my first son, I had my car stolen from my driveway (and nearly caught the guy in the act) and I had a business partner who went out of their way to try to sabotage my business. This perfect storm sent me into a 2-year, deep, dark depression. I did a lot of soul searching since then. I’ve mostly gotten off the consumeristic treadmill and retail therapy train I was once on. I let go of the concept of debt and credit cards.
What I realized was the stuff I was told would bring happiness rarely did or was very short lived when it did. So, I stopped spending on a lot of the stuff I once had. In all honesty, I also purposefully minimized my business to cater to one big client in the depression years. This was partly to master my skills and overdeliver to this one client to create an amazing case study and get a glowing testimonial to attract more great and bigger clients, and to take a little time working on myself to figure out why the hell I was depressed.…
What happened? Well, I killed it for my client! I got a great case study but something bigger happened in my personal life. I spent a lot of time focused on creating a self-care routine. I realized I was chasing the wrong things. What are some of the things I started practicing that eventually lead to happiness? How did I get off the treadmill?
Let me share some ideas and practices I started using in my Self-Care Routine to get off the Hedonic treadmill
Early on, I started taking walks fairly regularly. Yes getting sun offers Vitamin D not to mention the physical activity of moving the body. Both are very good for you. Walking done at a fast pace could also offer a cardio workout. I recommend trying to get to the point of cardio exercise a few times a week. I did and do this as much as I can for the last 8 years. Exercise is important and over the last year or two I added back to my life – bike riding and other types of exercise. We all know this is good, but if you are like me you may struggle to build a good program for yourself that is easy to commit to. To this day walking is my most consistent for of exercise. For the last 6 months or so I do basic yoga exercises about once a week. This certainly helps with cardio work to help the heart. If you would like to try to add Yoga to your mix of self-care routines, I have found an instructor to review some-forty yoga poses so you can do Yoga at home or on your smartphone anywhere and at a very affordable price. Check out my Mindful Yoga program here.
Early on while walking, I started adding a practice of feeding my mind with positive ideas and as I was heavy in business I started with easily accessible and free options of powerful business leaders. In my sales training several years before this mess, I was introduced to Earl Nightingale so I started listening to videos like this on my walks. This started flipping my ideas on their ear and started me down a path of better mindset development, goal setting, a focus on becoming who I want to become, and giving back to serve others, not just myself. These were all valuable lessons and although I may have known these things I was now trying to practice them regularly.
I also started ramping up my reading. I was focused on trying to read a book or two a month. I’d guess it was 1 a month when I was struggling with depression. Then I had a friend set a goal for 52 books a year I think. I was highly inspired by his work and by the fact that my father-in-law often read about 50+ books a year. So that year I pushed myself a bit. I made a decision to make this a priority. That year I read 24 or so books. I was amazed this was possible so I kept pushing myself. The next year, I think I did 54 books in that year. Then I pushed harder and crossed the 100 book mark. Then I repeated it the following year and now and on a path to do it again this year. I’d highly recommend adding reading personal development books to your routine and also push you to shoot for at least 12 books a year but preferably 24. In a few years, you will be a different person.
I started moving away from my typical reads related to business and started focusing more on personal development and self-care. One of the first books that I would say was life changing was a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer titled Change Your Thoughts- Change Your Life. This book did certainly change my life. I think I found it around 2015 and by 2016 I was not only practicing or exploring many of these ideas, I was also meditating on some of them as I had been meditating on and off by this time for about two years. I probably listened to this book several dozens of times if not more and it was my first exposure to the Tao Te Ching which opened my eyes to the power of Eastern Philosophies. In 2016 I tried starting a book discussion group where we would discuss the Tao. That never paned out in 2016 so I did a few webinar type presentations related to reviewing the Tao and Wayne Dyer’s translation in the Change Your Thoughts- Change Your Life book. I’ll share my review of the first verse and my intro to why I was doing it and how I got turned on to this stuff which is interesting to watch some 5 years later. As you’ll see, I’ve been on this path for a while.
If you would like to read this wonderful book, I highly recommend it and I will say the Tao Te Ching is probably one of my favorite books of all time mostly because it did totally change my life and set me on a path to finding deeper happiness. Here is a link to buy it directly from the publisher for a discounted price (at least it was when I posted this article).
I was a few years into my journey by this time but this book was one I kept going back to and applying to my life. And as you see in this video, I started seeking ways to use the ideas to help others change their life for the better. In the video I talk about the Facebook group I created called BE THE CHANGE which is still going and focused on pushing more positivity, kindness, and love out into the world.
As a way to serve others I was also seeking ways to better my community. I found a great program called Read2Win. This non-profit was focused on helping underperforming first graders get on level and improve their reading skills. This was a 30 week program I think so it was a hefty commitment to volunteers, but it really changed my life and I think my work may have helped change some of these kid’s lives.
You see, helping others is a powerful way to build a fulfilling and rewarding life. You might be amazed at how full your heart can be by serving. Plus this often helps you build a new sense of community and connection to new people and these turn in to really healthy relationships. Who can’t use a few more friends? Seeing what a group or non-profit can accomplish when you work with them is really amazing so find something you are passionate about and get involved in your community.
Obviously I love reading and I love kids so this was an easy one for me. I few years later I started a neighborhood bike gang where families in my neighborhood got together and started riding bikes together. It was a lot of fun, great exercise, but also a wonderful community builder. I got to know so many wonderful neighbors through this program.
Looking back I see I also doubled down on family as I had a newborn when my depression started and now have a second running around as a toddler. I am not only working for happiness for myself, but planting seeds for my boys to have all the tools they need to master it in their lives and honestly trying to build ways to help all of you find sustainable happiness as well. That’s really what this site is all about – helping people find their happiness and creating their hellagood life.
Okay, so sorry if this turned into a story telling more and more about my own journey. My intent is not being an ego-maniac, but rather sharing firsthand experiences as I know the ones that worked for me. In short the answer is actually letting go of ego, serving others, and finding ways to serve yourself through self-care not through external ways that we find while we are on the hedonic treadmill of life. If you are unfamiliar with the Hedonic Treadmill check out this article on Self-Care this is such a powerful concept and where the “treadmill” idea comes from for the title of this article. Then I also have an article talking about how you must look internal instead of external for happiness in this article.
I hope on this journey and talking about several things that lead me to happiness help you to decipher some ideas to help create even more happiness in your own life. I hope I wasn’t to all over the place. One last point that I can recommend is GRATITUDE. Apply gratitude in every area of your life. If you need help here, certainly give my newest training a shot. It is titled Grateful Living: The 5-Day Gratitude Challenge and it is free. That is something to be thankful for and these skills will help you step up gratitude and happiness. Click the info below to learn about the gratitude challenge. It is a 5 day email challenge right now. Thank for reading my friends! See ya next week!