How to Be Happy No Matter What You’re Doing

This post may not apply if you’re ever conscripted to lick embers from an ash tray while it’s still in use at a casino, or forced to listen to the entire William Shatner record collection, serenaded to you by the star himself. But otherwise I think this can really help.

I’m a guy who always has a lot on his mind. It’s not uncommon for me to be typing a task into Remember the Milk, returning a text or email, jotting an idea down in Evernote, or scrambling to come up with the perfect word to crush a family member or friend in Words with Friends. It’s not that I’m all that important. Just ask anyone who knows me. It’s just that there’s a lot to do. Can you relate?

A few weeks ago my wife’s parents flew down to visit us for a few days. I think I’m one of those rare guys who genuinely enjoys time with his in-laws (and if they’re reading this, “Hi Jan! Don’t forget to buy a super-sized box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch when Sarah and I come up to visit for Christmas. I love you!”). As the four of us were talking one night during their visit the conversation turned toward their work once their trip was over. My father-in-law (who’s a pretty smart guy by father-in-law standards) said something that really stuck out to me:

“We don’t need to think about any of that stuff right at this moment. All that matters to me right here and right now is enjoying right here and right now.”

And that’s the secret to be happy no matter what you’re doing: Living like all that matters right here and right now is enjoying right here and right now.

I think that’s really good advice (and not just because I wrote it. OK, maybe a little bit).

We have access to too much information. People can get a hold of us at the speed of light. There’s less time to do the things we need to do. When we are able to squeeze in a break our minds flood over with all the stuff we have to do later. Like Facebook and Twitter. Or how much we hate our jobs. Or wishing we made more money and lived in a better house.

We live in the most advanced time in history, with more resources than ever before, where everything is literally at our fingertips. And we’re never happy.

But there are people who live with less and are truly happy. Happier than most of us have been since we were kids. They work and live like that because they choose to. They choose to live in the moment, to enjoy what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with (without having to check their phone every three milliseconds). They don’t spend time being upset about their lot in life, or wishing to be somewhere else with someone else, because that is wasteful to the soul. It leaves our minds and hearts with a landfill of regret.

Jim Elliot was one of those people. He had a great approach to life. It was simple, but not simplistic:  “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

Today I hope you’ll take the challenge to live like all that matters right here and right now is to enjoy right here and right now. I hope you’ll pursue contentment over complaining, gratefulness over grumbling, and wonder over worry. Because that is the secret to being happy, no matter what you’re doing.

So I recommend the enjoyment of life. People have nothing better to do under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy themselves. This joy will stay with them while they work hard during their brief lives which God has given them under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 8:15 (GWT)

What can you do (or turn off) to be more present in your everyday life?

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