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It's Not What Happens to You

Over the years, I've found that the happy and successful people in our world have some significant traits in common. One of the most significant is that they consistently take action, whether it is in pursuit of a goal, or dealing with a consequence. They don't wait to see what will happen to them. They take charge of their world.


I do want to make a point here. When I say happy and successful people, I don't just mean the super wealthy or famous. I've had the privilege of working with many people who fit that description but much more, most in fact, of my life has been spent around the proverbial common man, that man or woman who works for a living, who is raising a family, who is paying bills and saving for retirement and struggling, as I have, to carve out a little bit of happiness in this harsh world we live in.


The one most consistent trait I see in these people I consider happy is that they take control of their destiny. They are people of action, people with a plan. They are making their own decisions and following through with the actions those decisions require. They are not standing idly by and letting circumstance dictate the condition of their life. No, quite the opposite. They are dictating the circumstances that result in a life that they can be proud of and enjoy.

That's the other thing that sets happy people apart. They take pride in their lives and make an effort to enjoy themselves every day. That doesn't mean that their worlds are perfect. Far from it. It doesn't mean that they don't have big goals or ambitions. Many of them have far bigger plans than their unhappy colleagues. It doesn't mean they never suffer or feel heartache or anguish or worry. Every one of us faces those challenges every day.


What they are doing is taking action, every day, to advance closer to those goals, dreams and ambitions. They are also reacting to and dealing with their worries and stress and challenges. They are doing what has to be done, when it should be done, as it should be done without putting things off or feeling sorry for themselves. In fact, most of the time they have dealt with their problems and moved on to more pleasant tasks and circumstances while their unhappy friends are still wallowing in despair and worry about "What is happening?" or worse, "What is going to happen next?"


That is, in fact, where the trait of action truly, with all due respect and apologies to the many strong and competent women I have had the pleasure to work with, defines the cliché, separating the "men from the boys."


Let's face it, life is about dealing with problems and for some us the occasional catastrophe. No matter how much you have in this world, you can be confident that you will still have problems. I have often said, if you want to be more successful, you need a better class of problems but what is even more important to understand is this. Bad things, stressful things, demanding things happen to all of us all the time. The differentiator between a happy life and a sad life is not what happens to you, it's what you do about it.


Do something, anything. Honestly, any action is better than no action. If you do nothing it will get worse and happiness will seem more impossible than ever.


Now, I don’t want to take credit for this brainchild idea. I learned it, lived it actually, through my parents. They taught me to be proactive, to fix things before they were broken, to return messages as soon as they were received, to pay the bills when they arrived (when we had the money) and to stay in front of my school work and, in effect, my life.


My parents didn't change the way people live their lives or make huge sums of money. They didn't seek fame or glory, or even credit. They just decided on the action necessary, with positive expectation, and then followed through. It was a simple formula that brought us a happy life.


So, answer me a few questions, what is the best way to manage your unanswered email? ANSWER IT! When is the best time to return your voice messages? WHEN YOU RECEIVE THEM! When is the best time to celebrate your child’s great test result? WHEN THEY TELL YOU ABOUT IT! Make sense?


If you have challenges in your life today, if you have dreams, desires, frustrations, heartaches or worries that you feel are denying you the happiness you want and deserve, I assure that there are actions you can take that will move you progressively in the direction of that happiness you seek, and make the journey an enjoyable one to boot.


Whether or not you take the action you know you should is your choice but I assure you, if you do, the benefits will far outweigh the price you pay if you don’t.


It's time to do something, now.

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