31 May What is happiness, really?
The pursuit of happiness is at the core of what drives us all. We strive to improve ourselves and our lives in all sorts of ways and for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes we make great choices and sometimes we don’t but in the end, we make the choices we do because there is at least some small part of our consciousness that thinks it will lead to an increase in happiness.
The pursuit of happiness often leads to chasing a superficial high. If I can just get a bigger house, a faster car, a new dress, a sexy girlfriend, if I could just lose weight then I’ll be happy. Of course none of these things actually bring us any sort of lasting happiness - once we get ‘the thing’ we just move on to wanting the next thing. The pursuit of happiness can lead us down a long and winding road to oblivion.
So what is happiness? If getting more, bigger, better stuff doesn’t makes us happy then what will? If a new job, relationship, or achievement won’t bring lasting and sustainable happiness then what should we do?
True, lasting and sustainable happiness isn’t gained through an acquisition or achievement of some kind. The things we tend to focus on in our pursuit of happiness are things that bring temporary joy. That new car feeling wears off pretty quickly, the doughnut high will be replaced with guilt in 10 minutes’ time, every new achievement or acquisition works the same way.
The pursuit of happiness is a myth, pursuit will never bring happiness. True, lasting happiness comes from letting go. Understand that all these superficial things have never taken you to where you wanted to be. The cake never actually fulfilled a deep need, the deep fried junk didn’t change your life.
True happiness is the kind that brings a real sense of inner calm and peace. The feeling of comfort in your own skin and confidence in your choices. The feeling of freedom and the certainty of purpose that silences internal debate. These things can’t be caught, bought, purchased or won, but they are easily achieved simply through ceasing behaviours that we will regret.
You know you will regret that doughnut. You know you will regret treating your partner poorly. You know you’ll regret adding to your credit card debt. You know you’ll regret that extra beer. You know you’ll regret missing that event (or regret going to it!). On the other hand, nobody has ever regretted eating a salad or going for a run. Nobody has ever regretted a good night’s sleep or paying off a credit card. Nobody has ever regretted making someone laugh or donating to a good cause.
Happiness is living without regret. Stop the pursuit.
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