You’ve heard of Murphy’s Law: Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Well, there’s a similar law. This one states that, left to themselves, things have a tendency to go from bad to worse. When something is making you unhappy, for example — for any reason — the situation will tend to get worse rather than better. So avoid the temptation to engage in denial, to pretend that nothing is wrong, to wish and hope and pray that, whatever it is, it will go away. Because it won’t go away. Ultimately, you will have to face the situation and do something about it.
There’s an old saying that you can’t solve a problem on the level where you meet it — in other words, that wrestling with a challenge is usually fruitless and frustrating. For example, if two people who are in a relationship are constantly fighting and negotiating and looking for some way to resolve their difficulties, they’re attempting to solve their problems on the wrong level. Dealing with their problems on a higher level, they would ask the question, “In terms of being happy, is this the right relationship for us in the first place?”
As soon as you begin to use happiness as your measure of rightness, you begin to see a situation entirely differently.
Many people work very hard and experience considerable frustration trying to do a particular job. However, in terms of their own happiness, the right answer might be to do something else, or to do what they’re doing in a different place, or to do it with different people — or all three.
Following are three questions for you to ask yourself. Write each one down at the top of a sheet of paper, and then write as many answers to it as you possibly can.
1. The first question is: “What would it take for me to be perfectly happy?”
Your first step is to be clear about what it would take for you to have your ideal life. So write down every single thing that you can imagine you would have if you were perfectly happy at this very moment. Write down things such as health, prosperity, loving relationships, inner peace, travel, car, clothes, homes, and so on. Let your mind run freely. Imagine that you have no limitations at all. Write down everything, whether or not you think you have the capacity to acquire it or achieve it in the short term.
2. The second question is a little tougher: “In what situations in my life, and with whom, am I not perfectly happy?”
Force yourself to think about every part of your day, from morning to night, and write down every element that makes you feel unhappy or dissatisfied in any way. Remember, proper diagnosis is half the cure. You have to identify the problematic situations in order to resolve them.
3. The third question will give you some important guidelines: “In looking over my life, where and when have I been the happiest? Where was I, with whom, and what was I doing?”
Many people refuse to even consider these three questions because they’re afraid they won’t like the answers. But if you have the courage to ask them, the answers will help you clearly define your life in your own terms.
By asking these questions, you will begin to delve deeper and deeper into yourself and your feelings. You will begin to accept your own happiness as a legitimate standard by which to evaluate everyone and everything in your life. You will begin to develop the wisdom, the courage, and the foresight to organize your life in such a way that you become a much happier person.
Once you have the answers, think about what you can do, starting immediately, to begin creating the kind of life you dream of. It may take you a week, a month, or a year, but that doesn’t matter. Every single thing you do that moves you closer to your vision of happiness will be rewarding in itself. You’ll become more positive and optimistic. You’ll feel more confident and more in charge of your life.[Ed. Note: Brian Tracy, author of the new book No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline, was born in eastern Canada in 1944 and grew up in California. After dropping out of high school, he traveled and worked his way around the world, eventually visiting 80 countries on six continents. His extensive personal studies in business, sales, management, marketing, and economics enabled him to become the head of a $265 million company before he turned his attention to consulting, training, and personal development..
You can also check out Early to Rise’s own Epiphany Alliance goal setting program. Success mentor Bob Cox has helped thousands of people achieve their most treasured life goals. Find out how Bob can help you here.]