John Addison: The Pursuit of Happiness

UPDATED: May 27, 2024
PUBLISHED: January 9, 2017

Sometimes I wonder whether there is a special kink in our DNA that attracts us to negativity. The way we slow down when we pass an accident on the highway or find ourselves riveted by sensational stories on TV. How we routinely expect the worst in our lives instead of the best.

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But there are ways to change that.

Begin by surrounding yourself with people who make you feel better. Over time you become like the people you hang out with, so it’s important to ensure they are people who lift you up rather than fill you with doubt and fear. One of the greatest ways to tap into happiness is to lighten up and laugh. Laughter is one of the greatest curative gifts we have, and we don’t use it enough. Find people who will laugh with you.

You also need to recognize that if you are waiting for outside circumstances to make you happy, you’ll never be happy. Paying off the mortgage or your student loans, for example, won’t bring you joy. Money is a multiplier—not a guarantee—of joy. Happiness comes from within. You find it through gratitude for the life you have built and the person you have become. You find it in the simple things by being fully engaged in the wonder of the here and now.

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When you are always waiting for tomorrow to deliver your dreams, you’ll miss all that today has to offer.


Focusing on the present is critical to finding joy in your life. When you are always waiting for tomorrow to deliver your dreams, you’ll miss all that today has to offer. When you continuously relive the past, you miss the opportunity to plan for the future. Many people dwell on the past or live in a pipe-dream future. You have one today in your life, and when it’s over, it’s over. It’s up to you to cherish today, to smile, to make the most of this moment, this day, this opportunity to embrace your life.

To sustain a joyful life sometimes requires you to filter your surroundings. After all, you choose what to allow into your head. Ask yourself what you are reading, what you are watching on TV, what impulses are bombarding you, day in and day out. You have to cultivate a life-affirming environment: Read things that uplift you, avoid the news now and then, and list the things that bring you joy.

Life is what you make of it. Have fun, smile and look for things to be happy about. Finding happiness in a negative world might be one of the biggest challenges we have today, but you can do it. Start right now.

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This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

John Addison is the Leadership Editor for SUCCESS and the author of Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose,aWall Street Journal and USA Todaybest-seller. Renowned for his insight and wisdom on leadership, personal development and success, John is a sought-after speaker and motivator. Read more on his blog, and follow John on Facebook and Twitter.