We spend such a large portion of our lives pursing happiness. We look for it everywhere–almost to the point of obsession. And often, that search is in vain.
We try to do numerous things we think will make us happy. Maybe we get a new outfit or car, or shop to fill the void. Maybe we try to get away on a vacation we think will solve all our problems and make us so much happier. Maybe we focus on happiness in an allconsuming way to the point that it makes us unhappy.
I know I have, perhaps too many times. But finally, I found that our obsession with finding happiness blinds us from seeing the happiness we already have. The happiness that is already right in front of us. Under our nose. I know that these are difficult times with everything else going on in the world. But I would argue that, perhaps, we actually have it better than any generation ever had it before. And as bad as it may be, finding happiness is critical at this time in order to arise creativity in all we do. Because negativity and unhappiness breed no creativity. But positivity and joy bring all kinds of creative solutions to problems.
It’s almost a paradox—the more we need creativity, the less likely we are to achieve it. Why? Because when things are tough, we tend to get down. And when we are down, we are pessimistic and lack optimism. And just at the moment when we need creativity most to help us solve pressing problems, it is extinguished by pessimism and unhappiness. So, creativity depends on looking at problems with optimism, happiness, and a good helping of mirth (I love that word) to solve problems that are unsolvable with analytics alone.
The Creator Mindset has 7 steps to help you see the happiness you already have in your life and work:
- Be simple. Quit complicating everything all the time. There are simple pleasures to be appreciative for. Find the ones that mean the most to you and use them daily. This is an easy one to understand but takes a lifetime to master. Start today.
- There will be tough times. The Creator Mindset believes that you are not entitled to 365/24/7 happiness. It’s a waste of time to pursue happiness with obsession. There will be some trying times. There will be some hard times. There will be some downright crappy times. Learn to accept them.
- Go beyond gestures of authenticity. I recently went to a benefit for a little girl who died of cancer. Typically, I would have donated something and moved on with my day but going to the benefit and spending time with the charity and family was much more meaningful. Step out of your usual comfort zone in which you make a hollow gesture of authenticity— you know, going through the motions— and actually live in a genuine, authentic, and real moment. Participate.
- We’re all gonna die. I don’t mean to be morose, but happiness viewed in such simple terms allows us to understand that no matter what job, position, or status we have or what jewelry or things we own, we can’t take it with us. And understanding that one day we will perish allows us to focus on what really matters—improving our relationships, our family, our community, and our country; nurturing our religion and values, morals and ethics. Ultimately, these are the things that make us happy—and have made human beings happy since the dawn of time.
- Do what you are good at. Doing things that we are good at makes us happy. Sometimes, it’s good to mix it up by doing things we are not so good at—but ultimately, if we are doing things we are good at, then we never have to work another day in our lives. And things that we are good at bring us sustained joy. I happen to be good at reading—I read almost a book a week. But you might be good at basketball or crochet. It really doesn’t matter. Do more of what you are good at.
- Look at what is right instead of what is wrong. A shift in perspective is sometimes all it takes to be happy. Shifting your thought process from looking at what is right in your life or the world instead of what is wrong will increase your appreciation for the happiness that is all around you. It is easy, and it costs nothing.
- Time is more important than money. Money can come and go, but time is a one-way street. Make the best of now, not yesterday or tomorrow. Now is all you have. How do you want to spend your now?
Some of these ideas may seem commonplace and maybe even cliche. They may also seem like common sense. But practicing these principles is the key to understanding them fully. I know that I have struggled with some of them. But when enacted, these 7 steps build happiness, which enables creativity to thrive. It may not be today. And it may not be tomorrow. But eventually, a path of happiness emerges. Allowing yourself to claim it is a far better road than obsessing over trying to find it.
Nir Bashan is the founder and CEO of The Creator Mindset LLC, where he teaches business leaders how to harness the power of creativity to improve profitability, increase sales, and make work more meaningful. His clients include AT&T, Microsoft, Ace Hardware, NFL Network, EA Sports, and JetBlue. He received a Clio Award and an Emmy nomination for his creative work on albums, movies, and advertisements, and was one of the youngest professors ever selected to teach graduate courses at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Learn more about his new book, The Creator Mindset: 92 Tools to Unlock the Secrets to Innovation, Growth, and Sustainability at https://www.nirbashan.com/the-creatormindset. Or visit https://www.amazon.com/dp/1260460010.