I’m beginning to see the light. I see that undertaking the pursuit of happiness is unproductive, meaningless, ineffective, absurd and futile. YES! It is all of those things.
Here’s why it’s ALL WRONG.
- Happiness is NOT a destination.
- I think there’s this idea that if you just get to a certain place in your life then you’ll be happy. That if you reach this point or this place then you’ll be completely overwhelmed with satisfaction. That you will have a permanent smile on your face, your heart will be completely filled with joy, peace will wash over you and you will lay down and bask in the glorious sun that eternally shines upon your face. Because you’ve reached your destination of happiness everything will be easy and you can just sit back and relax because you’ve done what you needed to do and now the universe will take care of you. This is PURE fantasy. This is an illusion maybe more so a delusion! You will NEVER reach this point. Life doesn’t work that way. You will not reach happiness and then coast through the rest of your life while you lay on a beach sipping on piña coladas.
- Happiness is NOT a possession
- Trying to grasp happiness is like trying to hold onto a fistful of sand; you pick it up for a moment and it immediately starts seeping through your fingers. No matter what you do you cannot hold onto sand and you CANNOT hold onto happiness. You can’t package happiness in a jar and have it whenever you need it. Happiness should not be something you ever try to capture and hold onto because then you’ll lose sight of reality. Happiness is fleeting and if you define your life based on how happy you are then any kind of purpose you hope to feel in your life will be fleeting as well. If you pursue happiness then your purpose will always feel as though, like sand, it’s slipping away because you’ve linked your purpose to your happiness.
- Happiness is NOT a gift.
- Happiness cannot be given to you. Happiness is not a gift you receive by getting a new job or a new relationship. You might feel good about it momentarily but that moment is irrelevant if you are not actually prepared to do the work of the job or relationship.
- Happiness is NOT an achievement.
- Let’s say you win a race. Your achievement is that you won the race. You feel happy that you won but let’s be clear, you haven’t achieved happiness. Tomorrow is a new day with a new race. Focus on the race you want to run, whatever it may be, whether a relationship, career, business, financial, adventure, etc.
So if happiness is about none of these things, then what? Is there no hope for happiness? Will we be left to be eternally lost always hoping, wishing and praying for happiness?
Happiness is NOT the goal; it is not the endpoint. Happiness is a by-product of the way you live your life. But more specifically, it is a by-product of the ACTION you take in your life. And guess what? YOU get to choose what action YOU take by determining what is important to you. Happiness is not something passively received.
Happiness exists in a moment and as quickly as it comes, it goes.
Let go of the notion that you need to figure everything out in your life. Let go of the idea that at the specific point in time that you figure everything out happiness will be there and will be bestowed upon you and for the remainder of your life you can sit back and be filled with happiness.
Stop wondering where happiness is and focus on what you care about, whatever that is! And you demonstrate what you care about by the actions you take. What are your priorities?
For me, I care a lot about working out and physical exercise and am constantly pushing myself in swimming, biking and running. My goal in working out is not to be happy. My goal is to see how far I can push myself and what I can achieve in running and triathlons. Do I wake up at 5am in the morning and hop out of bed smiling while I look forward to running 20km? Sometimes. But on the days when I don’t feel like it I’m not rolling out of bed filled with joy and happiness. That’s not what gets me going. What gets me going is that I have decided that it’s important to me so I’m going to do it and nothing is going to stop me, not even how I’m feeling.
The same goes for everything in your life. Take relationships for example, you don’t reach a point where every single day you’re ecstatic to be with the person you are with and you agree with everything they think and do and believe and you’re so lucky because they are absolutely perfect. That isn’t reality. You’re going to face challenges in life and in your relationships and you have to be willing to work with that person you’ve chosen to be with because you both know and understand how important the other person is to you and no matter what you will be there for them and are willing to work through everything with them.
The goal of life is not happiness. The goal of life is to choose what you care about and then go out and do that no matter what you’re feeling!
As always, Strive To Optimize!