Happiness versus the Pursuit of Happiness
Happiness, in one form or another, is the focus of every living creature. We all want to be happy.
Interestingly, there are many different ways we choose to pursue happiness. A corporate-raiding billionaire and a preschool teacher are both pursuing happiness in their own way.
While there are great differences between the lifestyles of happy people, there are many things they share in common, too.
See why pursuing happiness directly is ineffective:
1. Happiness isn’t a thing that can be pursued. You can pursue a specific model of car or 6-pack abs. You can’t pursue happiness because it’s not a tangible thing. Happiness is the result of living life in a particular way. The particular way is different for everyone, but there are guidelines you can follow.
2. Happiness is internal. Happiness is already inside of you. It’s your natural state. It’s not something you need to find out in the world and capture. You only need a few circumstances in your life to permit it to be experienced.
3. Possessions don’t lead to happiness. You can’t buy your way to happiness. Have you ever purchased anything that made you happy six months after you purchased it? Buying things can be pleasurable, but the pleasure is temporary.
4. Fun doesn’t lead to happiness. Fun is a temporary distraction. Riding a roller coaster is fun. Eating a bowl of ice cream is fun. Fun is a great diversion from the monotony of everyday life, but it won’t make you happy.
What does a person need in order to be happy?
1. Sufficient financial resources. It’s been well established that happiness doesn’t increase with income once a level of roughly $75,000 is attained. However, it does increase up to that income level!
- A sufficient income allows you to fund a comfortable lifestyle and pursue your most important hobbies. It’s not easy to be happy if you don’t have a roof over your head or enough food to eat.
2. Relationships.Meaningful relationships and interaction with others are important parts of happiness. There are few people that can be truly alone in life and be happy. This is one of the core reasons highly successful people are often miserable. They frequently lack meaningful relationships.
3. Feeling needed. We like to feel needed. We like to believe that our existence matters to someone. Volunteering is a simple way to fulfill this need. Caring for a pet is another way to feel needed.
4. Positive expectations. When you have a positive outlook on your future, it’s much easier to experience happiness in your life. Optimistic and hopeful people are more likely to be happy.
- Knowing that you’re taking a great vacation in a few months is another type of positive expectation that can increase the level of happiness you feel. What do you have to look forward to in your life?
5. The feeling of progress in your life. A little progress can unleash a lot of happiness. Even if you still have 100 pounds to lose, losing just three pounds this week feels pretty good. Set a few goals and make progress toward them. You’ll feel great.
6. A lack of things that make you miserable. This is important. Happiness isn’t just about attaining a set of criteria in your life. It’s also about not having negative things in your life that block happiness from shining. Ask yourself what the worst parts of your life are and fix the things you can.
Having all of these in your life is no guarantee that you’ll be happy, but it comes close. Can you imagine all of these items in your life and still not being happy? It isn’t very likely.
Avoid chasing after happiness directly. Instead, create the right environment for happiness to appear.