“Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try!” ~Yoda~
One of the problems standing in the way of our happiness is that we are trying too hard.
When it comes to our emotions, which includes happiness, we cannot “get” or “have” them, they are within us, they are something we are. We are being happy, we are being ticked off.
We aren’t doing anger, we’re angry. If you’re screaming at the guy that cut you off in traffic you’re not thinking to yourself, “Great, now I’m finally angry. I’m I doing this anger thing right?” No, you’re not thinking at all! You’re just pissed off. You are anger, until it subsides.
A happy person doesn’t think about whether they’re happy or not, anymore that a confident person thinks to themselves, “I’m confident.” They just are.
Once you get this, this it’s easy to see that happiness is not a goal in the classical sense; it’s not something that you get or achieve; it’s not a “side-effect;” in that there’s a direct causal relationship-although, much that happens can encourage you to express happiness.
Happiness is a choice we make, consciously or unconsciously. We are capable of being happy for no reason; however, because of today’s mass marketing, happiness is linked to circumstances; it is conditioned. If you buy this product, or achieve this goal, or learn this secret you will experience happiness.
But you can’t achieve happiness and you can’t buy happiness, at least not within the self-centered definition of “buying,” meaning getting something for yourself. Happiness just is.
Mistaking Happiness for Pleasure
One of the biggest mistakes people make in their pursuit of happiness, besides the actual pursuit, is a case of mistaken identity. They think they are after happiness when what they are really pursuing is pleasure.
It’s easy to get caught up in seeking pleasure because it’s – pleasurable. We enjoy, partying with our friends, good food, good sex, catching a good movie or TV show on the big screen, sliding into the seat of a new ride, losing weight or getting ripped, on and on.
Now there is nothing wrong with enjoying pleasurable activities, in fact they are essential to a life of well-being. Pleasure is, without a doubt, the motivational force behind all action.
But Pleasure is not happiness! In can encourage happiness, but it can encourage pain as well as any drug addict can attest to. Ask them how well their pursuit of pleasure worked out for them. Ask a person who almost ate themselves to death how happy pursuing pleasure made them feel. Ask the sex addict how the broken home and loss of their children, family and friends makes them feel now. Did that pleasure make them happy?
Pleasure is mass marketed to us. It’s what we become obsessed with. Pleasure is what we use to distract ourselves and to numb pain in our lives. The latest research tells us that that when we focus on hedonistic or superficial pleasures we become more anxious, feel less emotionally stable and ultimately causes us to experience more unhappiness.
One of the Myths of Happiness
In the self-help circles, there are some, which perpetuate a myth that one of the reasons that people are unhappy is because they’ve been feed a bunch of “B.S.” about how they’re “special and unique” and that they can save the world.
Another myth you hear centers around the idea that because TV and social media are constantly bombarding us with stories about how everyone else life is so wonderful, while our own sucks, and because of it, we feel so terrible, disillusioned, that we wonder, now that we’ve reached the ripe age of 25, if we should just pack it in.
These are myths, people are smarter than that!
I have friend who tried for a few years to build an online business and after spending large sums of money, finally had to give it up. He failed completely. And yes, in the moment it failed he definitely felt some personal pain, but if you talk to him today he’s happier than ever.
Why, because he tried and he learned a lot, about business and himself and it opened up an opportunity to do something he really loves, which he never would have discovered if he hadn’t taken the risk.
Today he’s able to look back without asking himself “what if?” a prospect, he says, that would made him a great deal unhappier than the failure did.
One reason for my friend’s feelings, in relationship to failure and happiness, has to do with, according to Martin Seligman the father of positive psychology, meaning and accomplishment which Seligman considers as two of the major components for experiencing a happy life. It is for this reason that failure to meet our own expectations is not antithetical to happiness, in fact some would argue that having the ability to fail and still appreciate the experience is actually a key ingredient for creating a happy life.
Accomplishment is another key ingredient for flourishing, which means having and striving for dreams and not settling. While not settling is important, you need to be sure that your dreams not skewed and superficial or that you’ve confused pleasure for happiness. And should you forget that, the painful smack of reality hitting you across the face will be one of the best lessons life ever gives you.
So go ahead dream big and live bigger and savor the failures. You will grow and learn from it.
So far we’ve looked at happiness’s mistaken identity and how happiness is larger than pleasure, which the mass media is selling as happiness. We’ve started to examine the different myths that surround our pursuit of happiness and next time we’ll continue that examination by looking at one of the primary pit-falls on the road to real happiness.
Finally we’ll discover where true happiness comes from; which is the difference between trying to be happy and being happy.
(To be continued)