The Pursuit of Happiness
…Maybe that’s the problem.
Pursuing happiness is like chasing a rainbow. The faster we go, the harder we try, the farther off it becomes.
I have learned that happiness is not a pursuit— it’s a choice. Happiness is a state of mind, obtainable at any time, in any moment of your choosing.
Licking a cone of creamy vanilla Häagen-Dazs makes me happy. But if someone knocks the cone out of my hand, I’m no longer happy. Happiness can be fleeting and unstable, like that ice cream cone. It’s really just a temporary sensation of pleasure, like entertainment, shopping, eating or sex.
Our beliefs about what will make us happy are heavily influenced by other people, Hollywood or commercial media. We race along this “hedonic treadmill” perpetually feeling like something is missing, like happiness is one toy, one trinket or one promotion away, but
beyond our reach.
And still no rainbow.
Disappointing career choices, heartbreaking relationships and midlife crises indicate that our assumptions about happiness and the pursuit of it often miss the mark.
It’s not the pursuit of happiness we should concern ourselves with, but rather the pursuit of fulfillment, purpose and significance.
If I have created a life of meaning in which I have a deep sense of purpose and value, that won’t change because someone knocks my ice cream cone over. Fulfillment is a state of existence, not a fleeting emotion.
What then creates a fulfilling life?
That’s the all-important question you have to answer for yourself. In fact, it’s the subject of the classic tome Man’s Search for Meaning (which I recommend!) by psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl. Typically a life of meaning requires deep relationships, a connection to a community, a sense of well-being, contribution to others and continual challenge, growth, learning and progress. Now those are some virtues worth pursuing. And once you start out on this pursuit, you will realize that crossing the finish line is not what’s most rewarding; the journey itself and the anticipation of achieving your goal is what’s so exhilarating and wonderful.
So what about being happy?
There are two ways you can choose to be happy at any moment.
One: Think about all you have to be grateful for. Some of the happiest people I have ever met are those who have comparatively few accoutrements to be happy about. When you feel gratitude, you cannot feel fear or worry at the same time. Gratitude washes it all away. If you are reading this, you’re breathing and above ground, so you have many blessings to be grateful for—just remind yourself at any moment you want to feel happy.
The second way to choose happiness—the best way, in my opinion—is to do something to make someone else happy. The person who bestows happiness always gets much more of it in return.
The June issue of SUCCESS is dedicated to the topic of happiness—what is it, how do you find it and how do you sustain it? An important enough of a discussion that we expanded the issue by an extra 20 pages (but same price!). And the CD in the issue is crammed with great content. We put my mentor Jim Rohn on it to address this important topic, as well as Deepak Chopra. There is also an excellent interview with the marketing guru Dan Kennedy on it. Don't miss it.
I hope this issue of SUCCESS and this blog post not only brings you much happiness but also helps you in your pursuit of finding greater meaning, purpose and fulfillment in life.
How do YOU define happiness? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 'Share' and 'Like' this post as well.