If you have to try to be cool, you will never be cool. If you have to try to be happy, then you’ll never be happy. The key to finding happiness is to stop looking for it. People are just trying to hard.
When you get angry at the neighbors dogs for barking all night long, you are not self-conscious about your state of anger. You are not thinking, “Am I finally angry? Am I doing this right?” No your out for blood in the middle of the night and can’t sleep because of all the barking. Or angry in any other situation. You inhabit and live the anger. You are the anger.
And then it’s gone. Hopefully before the cops arrive.
Happiness, like other emotions, is not something you obtain. It is temporary Always.
What this implies is the finding happiness is not achieved in itself, but rather it’s a side effect of a particular set of ongoing life experiences. This gets mixed up a lot, especially since happiness is marketed so much these days as a goal in and of itself. But X and be happy. Learn Y and be happy. But you can’t buy happiness. It Just is-once you get other parts of your life in order.
When most people seek happiness, they are actually seeking pleasure: good food, more sex, more time forTV and movies, a new car, parties with friends, full body massages, losing 10 pounds, becoming more popular, and so on.
But while pleasure is great, it’s not the same os happiness. Pleasure is correlated with happiness but does not cause it. Ask any drug addict how their pursuit of pleasure turned out. Ask an adulterer who shattered their family and lost their children whether playing ultimately made them happy. Ask a man who almost ate himself to death how happy pursuing pleasure made him feel.
Pleasure is a false god. Research shows that people who focus their energy on materialistic and superficial pleasures end up more anxious, more emotionally unstable and less happy in the long run. Pleasure is the most superficial form of life satisfaction and therefore the easiest. Pleasure is what’s marketed to us. It’s what we fixate on. It’s what we use to numb and distract ourselves. But pleasure, while necessary, isn’t sufficient. There’s something more.
Finding Happiness does not require lowering one’s expectations.
A popular narrative lately is the people are becoming unhappier because we’re all narcissistic and grew up being told that we’re special unique snowflakes who are going to change the world and we have social media constantly telling us how amazing everyone elsewhere lives are, but not our own, so we all feel like crap and wonder where it all went wrong. Oh, and all this happens by the age of 23.
Sorry, but no. Give people a bit more credit than that.
For example, a friend of mine recently moved away and started her own business in a big city. She used all of her savings trying to make it work but it failed. Today she’s happier that ever for her experience. It taught her many lessons and what she really wanted and didn’t want in life which eventually led her back to a job that she really loved. She’s able to look back and be proud that she went for it because because she would have always asked herself “what if?” And that would have made her unhappier than any failure would have.
The failure to meet our own expectations is not anti-theatrical to happiness, and I’d actually argue that the ability to fail and still appreciate the experience is actually a fundamental building block for happiness.
If you thought you were going to make $100,000 and drive a Porsche immediately out of college, then your standards of success were skewed and superficial, you confused your pleasure for happiness, and the painful smack of reality hitting you in the face will be one of the best lessons life ever gives you.
The lower expectations argument falls victim to the same old mindset-that happiness is derived from without. The joy of life is not having a $100,000 salary, it’s working to reach a $100,000 salary, and then working for a larger salary, and so one.
So raise your expectations. Elongate your process. Lay on your death bed with a to-do-list a mile long and smile at the infinite opportunity granted to you. Create ridiculous standards for yourself and then savor the inevitable failure. Learn from it. Live it. Let the ground crumble around you because that’s how something amazing grows, through the cracks.
Happiness is not the same as positivity.
Chances are you know someone who always appears to be insanely happy regardless of their circumstances or situation. Chances are this is actually one of the most dysfunctional people you know. Denying negative emotions leads to deeper and more prolonged negative emotions and emotional dysfunction.
It’s a simple reality that shit happens. Things go wrong. People upset us. Mistakes are made and negative emotions arise. And that’s life. Negative emotions are necessary and healthy for maintaining a stable baseline happiness in one’s life.
I am a very positive person, I tend to look for the good in every situation. And deal with the negativity as it comes my way. Then I cope with it, in everything happens for a reason.
The trick with negative emotions is to express them in a socially acceptable and healthy matter, express them in way that aligns with your values.
There’s a lot of people out there who subscribe to the “always be positive” ideology.
I think part of the allure of obsessive positively is the way in which we’re marketed to. I think part of it is being subjected to always be happy, smiley people on television constantly. And then there’s the self-help industry that want you to feel like there’s something wrong with you all the time.
With marketing there’s always a buy this and you’ll be happy and soon we are bombarded with everything materialistic so that we get a “I have to keep up with the Jones” attitude.
Or maybe it’s just that society today has the belief that we want to actually have things but not actually having to work hard for it.
Happiness is the process of becoming your ideal self.
Completely a marathon makes us happier that eating a chocolate cake. Raising a child make us happier that beating a video game. Starting a small business make us happier that buying a new computer.
The funny thing is that all three of these activities above are exceedingly unpleasant and require setting high expectations of yourself and potentially failing to always meet then. Yet, they are some of the most meaningful moments and activities of our lives. They involve pain, struggle, engender anger and despair, but once we’ve don’t them we look back and get geared up about them.
It’s these sort of activities that allow us to become our ideal selves. It’s the perpetual pursuit of fulfilling our ideal selves that grants us happiness.