How to Double Your Happiness by Flipping “Your Gap” Comments16 Comments

The following is a guest post. It is a rebut to my recent post about sacrificing work life balance for business.

Our appetite for success is necessary to reach our goals and dreams but it can also hurt our happiness.

We all have a vision of what we want our future to be.

“I will make X dollar every month” “I will be financially free” “I will run my own business” “I will live in a big house and drive a sports car” “I will travel the world” “I will be debt-free”

And that’s great because we need a vision to accomplish our dreams. That’s what we’ve been trained to think. “If you want to be successful be ambitious, be bold and determine what you want.”

Read also: 3 steps to realize your wildest dreams

The problem is that it’s also very dysfunctional, if you postpone your happiness to the future.

This is what the entrepreneurship coach Dan Sullivan call the Gap.

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The Gap is the period during which you delay your happiness in the present until you reach your objective. In this Gap you tell yourself things like:

I am going to be happy when this happen” “ I am going to open this bottle of Champagne when that happen” “I am going to celebrate when I reach X goal

When you think that way you tend to feel more anxious, frustrated and miserable and even when you attain the future you dreamed about, you feel unfulfilled. As a result you create another set of goals for another future, which once again will postpone your happiness.

To stop this nonsense, Dan Sullivan recommends reversing the Gap.

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Rather than constantly focusing on your future, remind yourself regularly of where you were 2 years ago. What did your life look like? What was your career like? How were you? And when you think about that, celebrate how much you’ve come in the last 2 years.

You need to train yourself not to only think about the future but to also celebrate what you’ve accomplished in the past. Pay attention to your “reverse gap” the period during which you had successes but also difficulties that you’ve overcome. That’s how you create happiness and gratitude in the now.

Many studies have shown the benefits of maintaining gratitude on a daily basis. One of them carried out by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California and Dr. Michael McCullough of the University of Miami, has proved than gratitude increase our optimism and our health.

In the study they asked one group to write every day about what they were grateful for and another group to write about their daily irritations. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. They even tended to exercise more.

See also the Science of Happiness: an experiment in gratitude

Here are some ideas to be more grateful and avoid “the Gap”:

Write on a regular basis what you are grateful for: You don’t need to write it everyday. You will experience the same benefits by doing this exercise 3 times a week.

Remember the bad: When you remember the hard times that you once experienced you instantly create a contrast with your present situation, which helps you feel grateful.

Practice mindfulness or meditation: With practice it will allow you to find a balance between the present and your desire to reach your goals.

Now I want to know, have you ever felt that “Gap” in your life? Do you practice gratitude on a regular basis? I would love to hear what you have to say in the comments below.

About the author: Simon Cave is passionate about Digital Entrepreneurship and Personal Development and help people reach financial independence on his blog The Becomer. Follow him on Facebook

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This entry was posted in Business, Career, and tagged , Comments16 Comments
By : Adam | 19 Aug 2014
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16 thoughts on “How to Double Your Happiness by Flipping “Your Gap”

  1. Tre

    That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. We’re always working toward a goal, but not enjoying our life. When will we finally get to enjoy the benefits of our work?

    Reply
  2. Mrs. Frugalwoods

    I think I needed to read this right now! I’m definitely guilty of projecting forward and delaying gratification. This is good in some respects, but I need to remind myself to be happy and thankful for where I’m at now and how much I’ve achieved. Thank you for this!

    Reply
  3. Kirsten

    Super interesting! I am not very good at practicing gratitude, but this is a great illustration of why I need to. It reminds me if the spending inflation pf bloggers warn about – I need to be careful of the happiness inflation. Happiness always dangling out of reach, because I’m upping the game.

    Reply
  4. Savvy

    I do this all the time. Last year I lost 9 vacation days and this year I have 14 to use before the end of the year. My husband and I have a plan – he is retiring at the end of this year, but delaying gratification gets really old.

    I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal this year helps and focusing on my goals and instead of what I’m missing helps too.

    Reply
  5. Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way

    I totally love this one! By celebrating what you’ve accomplished in the past and not only to think what would be our future will be. I can say that sometimes if I had a very bad day, I sit back and think how thankful I am now compared before.

    Reply
  6. Bre @ The Weight of Debt

    I absolutely needed this post! Thank you so much!

    I feel like anyone who is pursuing a long term goal can easily get into this funk. I am trying to start a business and I am SO stressed out at my to do list and what I have to do to get to the point where I feel “successful”. Rather I should be looking at how much I’ve gotten done and be grateful for how far I’ve come!

    Reply
  7. Yanes

    Once I read the quote “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor”, and some how your article reminded of it. Thank you for posting it.

    Reply
  8. Eli Inkrot

    Nice post. Incidentally, this is similar logic as to why I recently negotiated for a pay cut and ultimately struck out on my own. No need to delay contentment today when a perfectly viable alternative route sits before you.

    Reply
  9. Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income

    Interesting, you always think to put aside the “what-if’s” of the past and move on but it’s good to review successes. We felt kind of stuck in a rut but when we saw our finances from a few years ago we were way ahead, but it just didn’t feel like much progress.
    The funny thing about the future is we always says, “if I make 10k more I will be happy” but usually we raise our spending up as much and find ourselves in the same spot. Be happy now, then when things progress in the future it just adds to the happiness. Create your own, don’t wait for others to influence your happiness.

    Reply
  10. weenie

    In a similar vein to ‘Write on a regular basis what you are grateful for’, I took part in the ‘100 Happy Days’ challenge earlier this year – http://100happydays.com/

    I found that even after a bad day at work, there was something to be happy about, something that made me smile – the challenge just made me focus on it and remember it.

    I have to say that I felt great after the 100 days (although I did have a false start, claiming I was too ‘busy’ and I started again) as it make you think of something good every day!

    Reply
  11. Don @ Breath of Optimism

    Great post! This is what I try to convey to my readers. You shouldn’t be chasing happiness, because you will never be happy. Once you reach something that you think will make you happy, you will find something else to reach for that will bring you happiness. You have to find happiness in the here and now, in your everyday life.

    Reply

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