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Seeking Happy: A Single Dad Explains His Joyousness

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In this life, I believe, we are all striving to find happiness. Often, happiness is elusive. Often, our lives are more challenging and we’re working on survival rather than the subtle nuance of our own inner happiness.

Regardless of your current state or situation, the two of us have arrived here on this page, at this moment, and we are on a short journey together (this post) to discuss what finding our happy place means. I can only talk about myself and my experience. However, I would love to hear about your happy seeking in the comments here or on our Facebook page.

Seeking Happy

Every action we take is either towards or away from our own happiness. Even our thoughts (maybe primarily our thoughts) can be directed towards happy things or towards unhappy things. I’m not a “happy at all times” sort of person. I believe moments of joy and contentment are earned, actively created, and must be set as a goal, in both in intention and action. Are you setting your goals in the right direction? Is it money you think will make you happier? Perhaps a loving relationship is currently not in your mix. Do you suffer from physical or psychological pain? Happiness is not a destination. I don’t believe we arrive at happiness/nirvana/bliss. I believe we are in a constant state of creating happiness in ourselves and sharing that joy with those around us.

Let me use my own life as an example.

At this moment in my life (today, writing, on a Saturday morning) I am as happy as I have ever been. This place that I am living in, this moment of awareness, is my own inner joy. There are plenty of things that are not quite right in my world, but I’m content in this process of life. I have set my intentions towards positive and right action. Everything flows along that direction in my life. But it’s not an unconscious flowing. I am in continuous course correction along this path. I skirt depression, hunger, loneliness, sadness. I embrace unpleasant tasks with a holistic view of how these things fit in my life.

Am I Happy at This Moment

Here are a few of the things I notice at this moment, writing to you:

  • I am pleasantly satiated by a nice New York City breakfast
  • I have had a sufficient amount of coffee
  • I am aware of a painful lump on my left thigh that gives me a bit of concern and has me placing a call to my PCP in Austin for a referral here in NYC
  • I am snuggled in close with a wonderful and loving tiny dog named, Lilly
  • I am alone
  • I am in love
  • I am writing
  • I am – happy

At various times in my life, this inner contentment would not have been accessible to me. The potential for my own inner happiness is always here. Happiness is just a thought away. AND, that’s a bit of new-age bullshit, as you know. Yes, we can create our own happiness. And, yes, sometimes life deals us significant blows that are neither good nor bad but are obviously painful and not in alignment with our desired happiness.

And it’s not like this alignment is a denial of the unpleasant things. I am aware of my physical pain in this moment. I am aware of my longing for physical contact with my girlfriend. I am dealing with several real-world issues that can’t be “positived” away. I believe I am seeing reality as best I can. And I am choosing to bask in the goodness of my life at this moment. As I type these words, I am joyful at the connection I imagine in my head, with you reading along.

There’s no real trick to it. The process of finding your own inner happiness is to constantly course-correct what you’re doing towards things that bring more joy into your life. And consciously taking action to remove those things that give you pain and unnecessary drama.

On Work and Happiness

A few months ago I had a promising new client, who also happened to be verbally abusive towards me. I liked the money. I did not like my interactions with this person. I liked his work and what his company was trying to do, and yet he continued to attack me personally. It was an odd situation. He needed my help. At the same time, he resented my help and belittled some of the work we had done together. I fired the client. And, while I have had less discretionary cash, I have less need of defending myself against his groundless attacks.

A week after I fired him as a client he requested a phone call to discuss how we might continue to work together. I was a bit dubious, but I was willing to hear him out. I was also going to double my billable rate with him. Due to some scheduling difficulties, the initial phone call was missed. In his follow-up email to reschedule, he again attacked me and the work, we’d already done together. I never scheduled another call with him. And after a few nasty texts, I blocked his number on my phone.

This man was in alignment against my happiness. Dealing with him might have brought me additional money, but it was draining being on a call with him. I constantly had to defend myself from his loose cannon of anger and frustration. I was flabbergasted at first. I tried to do better. I tried to go “meta” on him during our meetings and take a zen “what am I learning from this moment” approach. But it didn’t work. I was constantly upset after our work together.

When you find people in your life who are out of alignment with themselves, they may not even notice how they are projecting and discharging their anger on you. As a process you can learn to buffer yourself around these “misaligned people,” or you can choose to leave them and their business with you behind. I chose to let this man go along without my help. I have never regretted removing his negative and destructive energy from my life.

How do you keep negative people in your life? Are there family members who cannot support your approach? It is time to evaluate all of the relationships in your life and set boundaries and priorities with each of them. Some people will need to be removed. While this is sad (can be sad) it is often a necessary part of the healing process for you. You deserve to be surrounded by positive and supportive people. And you deserve to release the negative influences back to their own trajectory, without you.

Today, I walk alone in New York City. I am a bit lonely. I am a bit hungry for physical affection. And, today, as I walk alone, I am in my happy place. Thank you for taking a few minutes to walk with me, here in this moment. Even this, this writing, is a fulfillment of my happiness. I reach out to be seen, to be heard, and to be embraced by your mind. In these words together, we achieve a small conversation.

Reach Out for More Happiness

Reach out to those you love. Let them know. Reach out to those you have concerns about, they may be unable to reach out for what they need. And reach out to your own heart, to your own needs, and to learn to support yourself in each and every moment.

Even in this place, alone but for a tiny dog, I have found inner peace. Contentment. Joy.

In this moment I am praying for you to find your happy place as well.

May you be safe. Be happy. Be healthy. And, live with ease.

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
Facebook  | Instagram | Pinterest |  @wholeparent

*written August 2018.


When we trust with our open heart, whatever occurs, at that very moment that it occurs, can be perceived as fresh and unstained by the clouds of hope and fear. —Dr. Jeremy Hayward, “First Thought”

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the little red book of mindfulness - john oakley mcelhenney


image: selfie with the tiny-dog, Lilly, 2018 nyc, john mcelhenney

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