How what you’ve got can become what you want

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Airline executive and religious leader, Dieter Uchtdorf, tells the story of a group of people asked to move a grand piano from a chapel into a cultural hall. A music event was to shortly take place.

This proved no easy task.

None of these people were professional movers. The piano was awkward and hulking. The doorway narrow.

The people shuffled in myriad positions, continuously switching places and attempting different angles of carrying the piano. Nothing worked.

Dumb-founded, the group stood around the piano. Then a woman watching from the side said, “Stand close together and lift where you stand.”

This seemed far too simple. Yet, without any other ideas, it was worth a shot. The group stood close together and lifted where they stood. The piano rose from the ground and moved into the cultural hall as if by its own power.

Like this group, most people over-complicate things. They over-complicate their lives, goals, and happiness. Happiness becomes the awkward piano, and people are scrambling to figure out how to carry it.

According to Brendon Burchard, author of The Charged Life, most people’s lives resemble a vast field of half-dug holes.

They begin digging in one spot in hopes for gold, but after a period of time become disillusioned. Convinced the spot is barren, they look for another spot and start digging.

The result? Most people are busy, exhausted, and always left disappointed. Ever learning and never able to find the truth. “This is a fundamental irony of most people’s lives. They don’t quite know what they want to do with their lives. Yet they are very active.” said Ryan Holiday.

Lift Where You Stand

“Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity.” — Paul Arden

The science of happiness shatters this putrid misconception and approach to life.

Gratitude.

Appreciation.

This is happiness.

Most people seek what they believe will make them happy. “Follow your passion and you’ll be happy!” is the common advice. Yet, most people remain unhappy. Or, they’re left asking, “How do I know what I’m passionate about?” The endless search for what will make them happy.

In his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport debunks the myth of chasing passion. Instead, he recommends refining a useful skill. You come to love what you do well.

You love what you invest yourself in. You love who you invest yourself in. Your relationships become meaningful as they benefit others. Your skills become meaningful as they serve and benefit others.

No investment, no attachment.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Do you see beauty in your present circumstances? Whatever it is you see, that is more a reflection of you than it is your circumstances. Gratitude and appreciation enhance beauty and possibility.

I’ve found this to be true as a foster father of three beautiful kids. For the first six months, I didn’t want to come home from work. Their monstrous behavior repelled me. I had no empathy and no patience. “How did I get myself into this mess?” were my honest and dark thoughts.

Then something changed. I started trying. To quote Mahatma Gandhi, I decided to “be the change that [I] wish[ed] to see in [my] world.” Knowing my kids weren’t going to change, I knew I had to. So I did.

I became more thoughtful and creative, more patient and caring. It took a lot longer to reach gold than I bargained for. Only recently has my relationship with one of the children become healthy. But the connection between us is becoming exquisite. Most importantly, I’m seeing this child grow and blossom.

I can honestly say I love my children with all my heart. This love was not passive or natural. It was chosen and earned.

The same is true of all things in life.

If you want to love your work, invest yourself in it. Become amazing at it. There’s nothing more satisfying than doing your best.

If you want to enjoy your relationships, invest yourself in them.

If you want a strong and healthy body, invest yourself in it.

The only way to happiness is to stop seeking it. Said Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning, “For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

You want to be happy?

Invest yourself in your craft and those people who matter most. Stop worrying about your own happiness. Stop looking at other pastures for greener grass. Invest in the grass you’re standing on. That which you appreciate, appreciates. Jim Rohn has said, “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.”

When you love what is, you can improve what is. Rather than seeking more, appreciate what you have. Invest in what you have.

In his book, The Leader Who Had No Title, Robin Sharma explains that it doesn’t matter what your current position is. You could be the bottom of your company. But if you act like a leader now, you’ll eventually become the leader. Sadly, most people just complain about their current position.

They don’t invest.

They aren’t grateful.

They don’t appreciate.

Be Where You Are

“When someone says: “So what’s next?” As in, “how are you going to top that?” You don’t have to have an answer. The answer can be: “This.” Your life doesn’t have to be about impressing other people or a successive series of achievements.” — Ryan Holiday

Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach has said, “Wherever you are, make sure you’re there.”

This is where you are.

Crush this.

Enjoy this.

The better you are in your current position, the better will be your next one. Don’t wait for your circumstances to change, improve the circumstances you’re currently in.

Boundless opportunity comes to those who are thriving in their current situation. Not for those resentfully wishing things were different.

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This article first appeared on Medium.