How To Be Happy Anytime
by Leo Babauta
of Zen Habits
My friend Barron recently asked, “If you could be anywhere right now, doing anything you want, where would you be? And what would you be doing?”
And my answer was, “I’m always where I want to be, doing what I want to be doing.”
I’ve noticed that in the past, like many people, I was always wishing I was doing something different, thinking about what I would do in the future, making plans for my life to come, reading (with jealousy) about cool things other people were doing.
It’s a fool’s game.
Many of us do this, but if you get into the mindset of thinking about what you *could* be doing, you’ll never be happy doing what you actually *are* doing. You’ll compare what you’re doing with what other people (on Facebook and Twitter, perhaps?) are doing. You’ll wish your life were better. You’ll never be satisfied, because there’s *always* something better to do.
Instead, I’ve adopted the mindset that whatever I’m doing right now is perfect. If I’m writing a post, that’s amazing. If I’m reading blog posts on the Internet, that’s interesting. If I’m doing nothing but hanging out with my family, that’s incredible. If I’m walking outside, enjoying the fresh air, that’s beautiful.
There’s nothing I’m ever doing that isn’t the most incredible thing on Earth. If I’m doing something sucky (I can’t remember doing that recently), maybe that’s an invaluable life lesson. If I’m with someone boring or obnoxious, it’s a lesson in patience, or empathy, or in learning to understand people better.
The Now Mindset, In Practice
Let’s say you’re washing the dishes. Wouldn’t you rather be having a delicious meal instead, or talking with your best friend? Sure, those things are great, but they’re only better if you believe they’re better, and more importantly, the comparison is totally unnecessary. Why should you compare what you’re doing now (washing dishes) with anything else? Wouldn’t almost anything lose out if you compare it to something you like more? Will you ever be happy with what you’re doing if you always compare it with something you like more?
Washing dishes can be as great as anything else, if you decide to see it that way. You’re in solitude, which is a beautiful thing. If you do it mindfully, washing dishes can be pleasant as you feel the suds and water in your hands, pay attention to the dish and its texture, notice your breathing and thoughts. It’s meditation, it’s quiet, it’s lovely.
You can say the same of anything. Driving to work? Enjoy the solitude, the chance to be alone with your thoughts, or to listen to music you love, to see the world around you. In a meeting with co-workers? Pay attention to how people talk and interact, learn about the human mind, see yourself in everyone around you, learn to love anyone no matter who they are, practice giving up expectations of who people should be or what this meeting should be like.
I’m always happy with what I’m doing, because I don’t compare it to anything else, and instead pay close attention to the activity itself. I’m always happy with whoever I’m with, because I learn to see the perfection in every person. I’m always happy with where I am, because there’s no place on Earth that’s not a miracle.
Life will suck if you are always wishing you’re doing something else. Life will rock if you realize you’re already doing the best thing ever.