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Why conditional happiness holds you back from real fulfilment

Did you know that we are at choice about how happy and fulfilled we are?

Yes, truly! We are at choice about how happy we are.

Let me show you what I mean.

Any of these statements sound like you?

  • I’ll be happy when I get that promotion.
  • I’ll be happy when we meet our fundraising target.
  • I’ll be happy when I can afford to take a special vacation.

Were you happier when you got what you wanted? Probably not.

I used to think that I was just one of those people who wasn’t very happy. By any measure, I had lots of the things (good job, car, house) that should make me happy but happiness just didn’t seem to stick. Why was that?

The above statements are examples of conditional happiness—happiness that is contingent on achieving an external goal. Research shows that, on average, conditional happiness is brief and fades over time. Meaning that to recapture conditional happiness, you need to set yourself another achievement, and another. It’s just not sustainable—it’s exhausting and stressful.

So, why isn’t conditional happiness sustainable? It’s because every person has a baseline level of happiness. Achieving conditional happiness will shift your baseline level of happiness temporarily but inevitably it returns to your set level.

As a nonprofit leader, your organization and all its stakeholders rely on you to manage your emotions. If you are constantly seeking happiness, fulfillment, and gratification through external conditions, you’ll bring that state of mind to work. You won’t just set goals, you’ll keep moving the goalposts looking for the next fix of conditional happiness.

But there is a solution.

You can rewire your brain and raise your happiness set level so that you experience happiness more frequently and sustainably.

Let’s take a quick detour and look at the definition of happiness. For my purpose, I’m defining happiness as feeling positive emotions like contentment, gratitude, joy, and compassion. While it is essentially human to experience all types of emotions—pleasant and unpleasant—we don’t need to stay in the unpleasant emotions indefinitely. We can choose to be in command of our emotions.

Research at Positive Intelligence shows that Mental Fitness practice helps to rewire your brain so that pleasant Sage emotions grow stronger and unpleasant emotions generated by our Saboteurs grow weaker.

When we encounter our unpleasant emotions, we are able to experience them AND recover faster so that we don’t get hijacked by anger, sadness, jealousy, or judgement.

We are in command of our emotions and we have quicker access to empathy, curiosity, innovation, and action–all the powers required for skillful and productive leaders. And, you feel sustained pleasant emotions as a result of responding powerfully to life’s challenges.

We are at choice about how happy we are. Mental Fitness provides accessible practices and tools to choose and sustain happiness.

If you are curious about the benefits of Mental Fitness or how it works, I’d love to you reach out; Book some time on my calendar or send me a note.