PaintingBoldStrokesOnWallWhat are you doing to consciously create your happiness? Think about it for a moment. What did you do in the last 24 hours that was specifically geared towards the long-term building of your happiness? If the answer was nothing, you’re among the majority. And you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Happiness is not something that just happens. It’s something that we consciously create and nurture. Whenever I find my overall outlook sliding from joy to less ideal thoughts and emotions, it’s a clear sign to me that I’m not paying enough attention to building on the happiness I’ve created in the past.

Happiness is a little bit like a campfire: To keep the flame burning bright and hot, we need to constantly add fuel to the fire and, sometimes, fan the flames should we let it burn too low. Our happiness, just like the fire, needs to be tended to ensure that it doesn’t fizzle out.

As I get older, I find myself getting better about tending to my long-term happiness. When I was younger, I would often work to the point of burnout. Back in the mid-’80s, I remember burning out so badly that it took me a couple of years to recover. I pretty much repeated the process here in Japan in the mid-’90s, too. Some lessons, it seems, are worth repeating.

Nowadays, I am much more conscious about my daily state. Sure, I still go through stressful times, but I try to be a lot more proactive about recovering from stress. That’s much better than letting it get the better of me. So, while the stress is unavoidable, putting recovery techniques into place early on helps to ensure that the stress never gets unmanageable. I think that is vitally important.

I’ve been self-employed in various shapes and forms since 2009. In the almost six years since I was a full-time employee, I’ve gone through some pretty intense monetary ups and downs. Keeping my balance through this roller coaster ride has been both challenging and refreshing. The challenging part hasn’t been the refreshing aspect in and of itself, though. What has been challenging has been learning to maintain my well-being even during times of high stress.

It’s important to know what it is that will make you happy and then take control of your goals to move in that direction. Happiness isn’t something that happens, it’s something you create! And, as they say, you can’t get what you want till you know what you want. Answering the question of what you want is an important first step that will help you to empower the rest of your life.

So, take a moment and really think about what it is that would truly make you happy. If your dreams were to come true, what would they be? What can you do in this moment to bring you even a partial step closer to making those dreams come true?

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