The First Step to Being Happy

An email from a reader got me thinking about happiness and being happy.  As I started to think about it I realized that being happy is not about how to get happy.  It’s not somewhere you go; it’s not a destination. Being happy comes from eliminating resistance so that we can be in the moment and live in the now.  When you let go of the resistance then you can create happiness.

Here is a question I got via email.  First I’ll share my answer to this question and then I’ll tie it back to resistance and how to take the first step to being happy:

“Do you think happiness comes from inside the person or it is always related with outside people & happenings?”

Happiness and being happy comes from your inner world.  The question comes from a point of awareness. Many people aren’t in-tune with their thoughts and perceptions and don’t realize that we are simultaneously living in two worlds: an inner world and an outer world.

Happiness comes from an understanding the difference between your outer and inner worlds.

Outer World vs Inner World

The outer world is the people in your environment, the car you drive, your home, and anything that is part of the material world.  This is the outer part of you.  It’s everything you’ve accumulated to this point in your life.   It’s the material stuff and people you’ve attracted into your life based on your predominant frequency or vibration.

The things in your outer world have no bearing on your self-worth or importance.  Self worth is defined by your inner world.

Your inner world includes the thoughts, perceptions, feelings and beliefs you have about the world, other people and yourself.  Both the inner world and the outer world work simultaneously to create this miracle called your reality.

Being Happy

“Nothing can bring you happiness but yourself.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can’t be happy in the outer world.   Happiness doesn’t exist in the outer world.   You can’t buy it in the grocery store.  You can’t package it up and say, “Hey, here’s some happiness, I picked it up for you.  Grab some while you can.”

Happiness doesn’t exist in the outer world.   It only exists in the inner world.

What’s interesting is that most people have this reversed.

They laugh when I say you can’t buy happiness at the grocery store. But then they spend the majority of their adult life trying to be happy by striving to buy a bigger home, find a better partner and seek a better job – like these physical things have anything to do with happiness.

Some people will say, “I find it hard to believe that the outside world does not make you happy.  I seek a new career and a new relationship. I know I would be happy if I had those things.”

While you may be content having something that you didn’t have before… this is not true happiness, but rather your reaction to the outer world.  When in fact, what really makes you happy is to experience the contrast of going from not having something to having something.

But who says you need to see a physical change in the outer world before you experience that contrast?

The truth is that happiness comes from your experience of this contrast.  It’s this contrast that creates your perception.  You always see the outer world through your perception – which is filtered through your thoughts, feelings and the beliefs you hold about yourself, other people and the world.

Most people are re-acting to the outer world by doing.  They are doing so that they can have something.  But having doesn’t make you happy.

The impact of doing in order to have something leaves most people feeling miserable. It’s because we’re designed to live from BEING-DOING-HAVING instead of from doing.  You’re a human being not a human doing.

I explain this in more depth here: Don’t Even Think of Filling the Void Until You…

The first step to being happy is acceptance of this great truth: Nothing outside of you will ever make you happy.

The First Step to Being Happy

Back in 2001 I had a really bad mountain biking accident in Interlaken, Switzerland.  I was riding on a mountain trail with a friend of mine at about 40 km/hour (25 mi/hour), I hit a bump, jammed the breaks and managed to fly like super man over the handle bars.

After taking an inventory of my body, I realized I had some serious road rash on my hands, shoulders and elbows.  There was also a lot of blood all over the place leaking from my head and hands.

The look on my friends face (with his eyes bulged wide open) pretty much told the story.  I was in trouble.

A year after the incident I developed a keloid on my left shoulder.   When I went to the beach with friends, it made me feel embarrassed and awkward.   I felt angry that I had been so stupid to get into that accident.   “What a stupid thing to do,” I thought.   What’s worse is that I started to feel guilty for giving myself such a hard time.

At some point around the 3 year mark after my accident, I let it all go.  I let go of my anger.  I let go of my guilt.  Instead of feeling miserable about how my shoulder looked, I felt lucky to have a healthy shoulder.   I felt lucky to be alive.   I could have died right there on the mountain.

Funny thing happened once I did that.   This keloid started to retreat and shrink.   It flattened out into some scar tissue that’s still around today.  I go to the beach all the time and it’s always great to share my Switzerland story and how I got into this crazy accident.   People love it and it’s a fun story to tell.

It took me 3 years to let go of that emotional baggage.   I still have the scar but I don’t have any judgements about it.   I accept it completely as it is.   Not only did my skin start to heal, but I did too.

The Practice of Happiness

The practice of happiness is the practice of acceptance.  This is the first step to being happy.

You want to let go of your attachments and accept things as they are.  Once you accept your current situation and conditions you can create true feelings of joy. The sooner you let go of your resistance the faster things will happen and the happier you’ll be.

The practice of happiness is to continually train yourself to let go of your attachment – to let go of the way you want things to be and trust in the process of manifestation. This is the first step to being happy.

The only way to be truly happy is to let go of your resistance and your attachment – to move downstream and go with the natural current in your life.

Resistance comes from going against the current in your life. Life is trying to move downstream, but your resistance is holding you up. You might be holding on because you’re scared or even terrified of change. This attachment creates more resistance, more frustration and more pain.

The secret is to let go.

Letting Go Exercise

For the first five minutes of every day as you start to wake you want to pay attention to your thoughts.   You don’t want to identify with them – you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts are just a tool that you use to help guide and direct your life. The best way to detach from your thoughts is to observe them.

It’s a simple exercise. Take the third person perspective and observe the pictures and voices in your head.   As these thoughts come to you, just let them come and go.   Don’t hold onto any one thought, just observe.

You might also enjoy: Why Being Happy with Yourself is Harder Than Being Miserable



  • andy ferguson

    Reply Reply June 28, 2010

    Hi Steve

    followed the Link from linked In motivation nation. Just to be a bit awkward … the universe is a pretty big place and it’s pretty old…. I’m always a bit sceptical when any of us starts spouting that we have the answer … especially if it’s a “get quick” fix.

    The great prophets, scientist, thinkers and philosophers have spent their lifetimes looking for answers… I don’t think it helps when we offer answers in a few paragraphs.

    That said I agree “letting go” is a start (even if it isn’t easy sometimes). Awareness is definatley a step in the right direction and developing good habits will change over time.

    Keep up the good work



  • Mary Emison

    Reply Reply June 30, 2010

    Hello Steve,
    I have been working at releasing the past baggage as well as trying to release my physical pain and discomfort. It is easier said than done. However, I see how attached I was to the past and even to the present even tho I don’t want illness to define me. I am getting better at not talking about it and telling it, “NO!” when I catch myself dwelling on it. But still I haven’t released it or I would start feeling better, wouldn’t I? Anyway, I am always grateful for reading about release and how it has worked for someone else as it gives me hope that one I will be able to release and share that fact with others.

    I have had difficulty in downloading your ebooks in the past and you have had to send me a special link. Can you do that for the Stop Procrastination Now! ebook? I can’t get it through my RSS feed and I really could use it! Thank you!

    Many Blessings,

  • Steve

    Reply Reply June 30, 2010

    Hey Mary,

    Thanks for sharing your journey and how it’s going.

    As for the free report/ebook on procrastination, you can just email me and I’ll sent it over to you.

    Hope all is well,

  • Steve,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on happiness and how to create it in our life. I especially liked your story about your Switzerland accident, the letting go and the healing that followed. I totally agree with you that creating happiness is an inner activity, but your statement that the outer world is not happy makes me wonder what you really mean. For sure it is not the source of our happiness. How would you describe it?

  • Steve

    Reply Reply July 1, 2010

    Hey Arlene,

    Great to connect here. What quite did you mean by this statement…

    “your statement that the outer world is not happy makes me wonder what you really mean.”

    I’m sure that the outer world is a happy place, but it’s not where happiness comes from. It’s a great source of frustration for many people because they default is to re-act to their outer circumstances… sometimes the reaction is one of happiness and satisfaction and other times it’s of disappointment, doubt or worry.

    Either way, it’s this reaction to the outer world and our circumstances that has got to stop. We need to learn how to respond and act appropriately to pursue our goals and ultimately be happy in that pursuit (before we achieve those goals!)

    You can’t be happy in pursuit of having something perfect on the outside because the outside doesn’t “become” perfect until you realize that perfectness exists on the inside.

    I’m not sure I answered your question – but I’d still love to hear your thoughts ???


  • Mary Emison

    Reply Reply July 2, 2010

    In Buddhism it is called the Middle Way. While I do practice Buddhism and I meditate everyday I still have quite a ways to go before I stop reacting. But I am getting better at it. Good answer. Thank you.
    ~ Mary

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