“I should be happy with what I have.”

Haven’t we all said this to ourselves before?

When we’re feeling unhappy, we often tell ourselves we should be happy – usually sternly, impatiently. Our inner voice says, “Stop complaining! Be grateful for what you have.”

We try to believe ourselves into happiness. Sometimes, it’s almost like we try to force our attitudes and emotions to change, and we criticise ourselves if we’re not in a constant state of positivity.

I wonder whether it’s the way we have been brought up. As Australians, we’re often told we live in the “lucky country”, so there’s the perception we shouldn’t dare complain.

And, as women, it’s beaten into us that we should be grateful for being able to have a family and work professionally and do the things we want to do personally.

But this is gratitude gone wrong

It’s true that gratitude is important. Being thankful and appreciative is a wonderful feeling. But it’s almost like we’ve been brainwashed into thinking we should be happy, regardless of what’s happening in our lives.

Is that right? Should we always be happy with what we have?

The downside to always being happy

I worry that if we try to constantly “be happy with what we have,” we stop striving to reach bigger goals. We stagnate in our lives and our businesses. We stay in our comfort zone, perhaps even in our discomfort zone, and deny ourselves greater happiness.  

Now, I’m not necessarily talking about striving for more money or trying to climb the corporate ladder, although these things can be helpful. I’m talking about striving to continue to learn and explore new avenues and opportunities so that we can grow as human beings.

Why is it so hard to be happy?

In his article, “12 Reasons You’re Not As Happy As You Should Be,” Travis Bradberry says happiness is “synthetic” – either you create happiness, or you don’t. Lasting happiness, he argues, is the result of carefully honed habits practised day in, day out.

Among the top reasons why we are not happy are:

  • Hanging around negative people.
  • Comparing our lives to what we see on social media.
  • Isolating ourselves.
  • Neglecting to set goals.
  • Giving in to fear.

This is great news! It means we do have some control over our happiness. By avoiding the above behaviours, we position ourselves for a more positive mindset and engage in more helpful habits that will make us happy, build confidence and improve self-esteem.

But it’s also important we are kind to ourselves. S*** happens, and sometimes there’s nothing we can do about it. When things go awry, allow yourself to feel negative, give yourself some space to complain, but then dust yourself off and move on.

You deserve to be happy!

I’m Emma, and I’m a business and executive coach who believes wholeheartedly in the potential of women. My coaching philosophy is simple- taking action leads to results- and I love working with women in business and in corporate roles to take their passion and drive and transform their professional and personal lives.

Be enthusiastic, optimistic and energetic, every day.

Em x

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Emma also has a podcast.