I have discovered that most of us really are striving for one thing and that is a sense of peace, but it is wrapped up in other “stuff!” Each one of us has a different idea of what will make us happy. Some think they will find it in a good job; others feel that financial prosperity or possessions will bring them happiness. We start out with an idea of what will give us everything that we need….but we’re often disappointed when we acquire what we thought we were looking for, but still feel an empty hole that needs to be filled.

Here’s what I have learned:

  • Part of knowing what you want is recognizing what you don’t want. If you really can’t stand your job, figure out exactly what you don’t like about it. Is it because you don’t like working in an office? Is it that you can’t freely express yourself? Do you hate the hours? Pinpoint what is bothering you and then determine whether there is anything you can do to fix it. This will help you to refine your feelings.
  • Make a list of your core values…those values that are most important to you and define who you are. Are you being true to those values or are you compromising them? Now consider the things about which you are passionate. These are the things that make you feel a sense of purpose. Are you keeping these things in your life?
  • Think back to your childhood and the things you most enjoyed doing. See if you can identify patterns throughout your life. For instance, have you always been happiest when you have been working with your hands? Helping others? Being around children? Doing something artistic? Recall how you felt when you were involved in things that gave you fulfillment. Are you still participating in the activities you enjoy?
  • Are you putting yourself on your “To Do” list? It is not being selfish to take care of yourself! As a matter of fact, it makes you better able to take care of others. Most of us feel used, abused, and confused if we don’t make time to pursue our interests. Ask yourself what you would do if you had no restrictions, obligations or limits. Of course, we can’t pitch our responsibilities, but thinking about what we would do if we didn’t have them helps us to determine what we really want. Then we can work on a plan to incorporate those things into our lives.
  • Don’t try to copy what others do to find happiness. You may envy the way they seem to be living, but you need to find your own joy and it doesn’t come from trying to be someone else. What makes someone else happy won’t necessarily do the same for you. Everyone needs to find his or her own happy place.
  • Don’t ever assume that things are as good as they’re going to get! It is never too late to focus and find your joy. But never look to someone else to tell you what you need to be happy, peaceful and full of joy! We all need to find that for ourselves.
  • Most importantly, remember that material belongings, money, celebrity, etc. are temporary band aids to patch the empty place in your soul, if you aren’t truly joyful and thankful or what you have.


Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach. Visit her website at www.lindahenley-smith.com