“… finding happiness is not achieved in itself, but rather it is the side effect of a particular set of ongoing life experiences.”
Read more here: Stop Trying To Be Happy
Recently (and I mean as in this past year) a passionate struggle of success ended for me and some associates that became friends. Some invested their time, some their time and money, others were passive investors of the classical sense. Investors none the less. With a series of events colliding our business venture out ran its cash and couldn’t sustain itself. Was it the economy, poor planning, poor management, embezzlement or plain ole poor timing. Regardless, I lost it all. … and I mean the whole basket of eggs. Everything. I walked away with a bruised ego, an empty bank account, surmounting debt, a compromised personal relationship (what marriage when you have no money) and worse yet … no prospects for employment. This last item was especially troubling as I thought this was my last and final employment adventure (that’s why I went all in). Surprisingly, I seemed happier than most when others heard of our plight. Folks sincerely were sorry and troubled for “my” life altering losses. I was (and am) humbled by their remorse for my situation. I can say I am still “happy” after it all. I still wake up, and the daily struggle, while harder, still survivable (let’s see how I feel after having to deal with the IRS!). In all manner of reasonableness it is possible I may lose more, but not without at a minimum resistance, the fight for survival, while not animalistic, instantaneously accessible.
Life experiences as such are not always pleasurable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy with where you are in life. Make the most of your day, be happy if for nothing else, in spite of it all.
-Ralph. aka “Happy” <– so nicknamed in real life by the byproduct of someone who truly has made me proud of her and extremely happy as well.
For those that are impatient, the punch line:
Happiness is the Process of Becoming Your Ideal Self
“Completing a marathon makes us happier than eating a chocolate cake. Raising a child makes us happier than beating a video game. Starting a small business with friends and struggling to make money makes us happier than buying a new computer.
And the funny thing is that all three of the activities above are exceedingly unpleasant and require setting high expectations and potentially failing to always meet them. Yet, they are some of the most meaningful moments and activities of our lives. They involve pain, struggle, even anger and despair, yet once we’ve done them we look back and get misty-eyed about them.
Because it’s these sorts of activities that allow us to become our ideal selves. It’s the perpetual pursuit of fulfilling our ideal selves that grants us happiness, regardless of superficial pleasures or pain, regardless of positive or negative emotions. This is why some people are happy in war and others are sad at weddings. It’s why some are excited to work and others hate parties. The traits they’re inhabiting don’t align with their ideal selves.
The end results don’t define our ideal selves. It’s not finishing the marathon that makes us happy; it’s achieving a difficult long-term goal that does. It’s not having an awesome kid to show off that makes us happy; it’s knowing that you gave yourself up to the growth of another human being that is special. It’s not the prestige and money from the new business that makes you happy, it’s the process of overcoming all odds with people you care about.
And this is the reason that trying to be happy inevitably will make you unhappy. Because to try to be happy implies that you are not already inhabiting your ideal self, you are not aligned with the qualities of who you wish to be. After all, if you were acting out your ideal self, then you wouldn’t feel the need to try to be happy.
Cue statements about “finding happiness within,” and “knowing that you’re enough.” It’s not that happiness itself is in you, it’s that happiness occurs when you decide to pursue what’s in you.
And this is why happiness is so fleeting. Anyone who has set out major life goals for themselves only to achieve them and realize that they feel the same relative amounts of happiness/unhappiness knows that happiness always feels like it’s around the corner, just waiting for you to show up. No matter where you are in life, there will always be that one more thing you need to do to be extra especially happy.
And that’s because our ideal self is always just around that corner, always three steps ahead of us. We dream of being a musician and when we’re a musician, we dream of writing a film score, and when write a film score, we dream of writing a screenplay. And what matters isn’t that we achieve each of these plateaus of success, but that we’re consistently moving towards them, day after day, month after month, year after year. The plateaus will come and go, and we’ll continue following our ideal self down the path of our lives.
And with that, with regards to finding happiness, it seems the best advice is also the simplest: Imagine who you want to be and then step towards it. Dream big and then do something. Anything. The simple act of moving at all will change how you feel about the entire process and serve to inspire you further.
Let go of the imagined result—it’s not necessary. The fantasy and the dream are merely tools to get you off your ass. It doesn’t matter if they come true or not. Live, man. Just live. Stop trying to be happy and just be. “
Now go back and read the whole article. It really is worth your time and will empower you towards happiness.