Happiness is not to be pursued. Happiness cannot be bought, acquired or accumulated. It is to be received out of a grateful state of mind.
We all have the desire to be happy. After all, no one wants to be unhappy that’s for sure. If you were to do a search on google on the word happy or happiness, you will discover over 1 billion searches. Even if you are not one of those 1 billion who have searched for happiness on Google, you are certainly wanting to be happy.
Happiness is a state of well-being that comprises of living a good life, one with a sense of meaning and deep contentment according to psychologytoday.com. We have all heard about the health benefits of happiness such as longer life span, improvements in your physical health and higher quality of life.
As a result of happiness being a desired state, we naturally want it and in order to acquire it, we pursue it like we pursue most things, we work at it. We believe that we are able to work for it, earn it through some means and because it is good for us, we want to accumulate and hold on to this state of happiness.
The pursuit of happiness at the core is a myth and a lie. Mainly because of the belief that happiness is something to be pursued or could be bought or acquired or accumulated. It is to be received and enjoyed every moment not because of what you have or the situation around you. You are to receive it because there is always something to be thankful for.
The 3 biggest lies are:
1. When, Then, I Will Be…
2. I don’t deserve, or I am not worthy to be happy because of ….
3. Everything around me, the happenings around me must be perfect first…
Let’s break it down.
WHEN, Then, I will be..
“When” is a word that describes a timeframe. A certain point of time, or a certain event is to take place somewhere in the future. It is future or forward looking. It implies 2 things. Not now and a later time. It implies that you are not here yet, therefore Not Now, for you to enjoy the moment. Not Now, hold on, you shouldn’t because it is not time yet. You have not achieved a certain milestone or target. You have not arrived, or you do not deserve it now.
When I have earned $1million dollars, then, I will be happy is a very common goal that people have. The lie here is that the $1million dollars is able to give you happiness. We all know that with arbitrary goals, the goals will change once we reach it. I am sure that you have made some of the when, then, I will be goals.
The most common ones are:
- When I am rich (whatever rich means to you), then I will be happy and satisfied or will retire.
- When I am married to Mr Right, then I will be happy for the rest of my life.
- When I get this job or make this deal or achieve this target, then I will be happy and will enjoy my life.
- When everything around me is perfect then I will be perfectly happy.
I doubt that any of those examples would be of a surprise to you. What might surprise you is that you have said it before. You will also know that as soon as you have achieved those desired “states”, you will then come up with another “state” for you to work towards.
“When, Then, I will be” is great to help us to continue to strive to be better, to grow and develop but it should not come with a price tag that says “happiness”. If happiness had a price tag, then we could assume that the richest people in the world, would be the happiest. However, we know from studies after studies that financial riches do not necessarily give the highest happiness index.
You do not deserve to be happy because of…. Past, mistakes, imperfections.
The 2nd biggest lie is the “toxic mindset” or a long-held belief that says, “you do not deserve happiness or you are not worthy of happiness because of (fill in the blank).” It could be because of your past, mistakes or actions, things you have done or things that were done to you that causes you to belief that you are worthy or undeserving of happiness.
We often confuse identity with actions. This causes a lot of challenges with how we view self-worth and how we handle shame. The mindset that causes this is deep rooted shame which then manifests itself into self-defeating and self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviour.
Dr. Brene Brown, describes shame as a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behaviour. Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.” To illustrate this, if you did something wrong, you now need to apologise for it, what would your self-talk be? Guilt would say “I am sorry. I made a mistake.” Shame would say “I am sorry. I am a mistake.”
If you believe that you are a mistake, you will naturally then believe that you do not deserve or are not worthy to be happy. To break free from this stronghold is to embrace your vulnerabilities and imperfections and acknowledge that you are not your vulnerabilities.
Everything Around, the happenings, must be perfect before I can be happy.
It’s a strange quest that we have with perfection. Maybe it started young with fairy tales of the perfect prince charming, the perfect wedding, the perfect house, the perfect job and the list goes on. Along side the quest for happiness is the quest for perfection. If our quest for perfection is not on ourselves it is certainly with the people around us.
Before you think that you are not a perfectionist, let’s just say that you don’t have to be a perfectionist to have this mindset. Have you ever thought, if only that person was perfect, then… or if only that piece of work was perfect then…
Perfection is a state just like happiness is a lie or a myth. Simply put, how can anything that we do be perfect when the people doing them which includes you and I, are not perfect. We will never be perfect because we do not really know what perfection looks like. The benchmark for perfection is different for each of us but if there is such a thing as perfect, then there would a universal model for perfect that we could all follow and become.
The reality is that your state of happiness is not and should not be dependent on the happenings around you. You will not have the perfect job, the perfect car, the perfect spouse, the perfect children and the list goes on. Therefore, if you are tying your happiness to achieving any one of those perfect situations, you will never be happy.
What can you do today to receive happiness?
The simple answer is to not do any of those 3 things again. However, like most things, it is never that simple especially when the challenge is with your mindset. The deep and long held belief even though you know is destructive or self-sabotaging, takes time and intentional effort to replace and remove.
You can take steps to start enjoying your life and to give yourself permission and access to happiness right where you are at, this every moment.
1. Give yourself permission to be happy. Think of just one thing that you are grateful for and allow yourself to be happy with that. It could be as simple as “I am healthy.” Think of that one thing that you are grateful for and choose to be happy.
2. Everyone deserves and are worthy of happiness for no other reason than you are special.
3. Good enough is good enough. Perfection is over-rated and certainly a myth. Your best effort could be good enough in another person’s perspective, but your best is good enough. Celebrate your work, your effort because you can only control what you do and not what other people think or how they would respond. Focus on your controllable or your input goals e.g. your work, project, writings, business plans. You cannot control the outcome or the uncontrollable. Even though we might believe that we can and to a certain extent you can but for the most part, we can’t control the outcome.
Let me summarise the 3 biggest lies in the pursuit of happiness and they are:
1. The “When, Then, I will be.”
2. You do not deserve or are unworthy to be happy.
3. Everything must be perfect before I can be happy.
Happiness is a state that you can experience right now when you give yourself permission to, recognising that you deserve and are worthy of it and good enough is good enough.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life. As always, please subscribe, like, follow and share this blog with your friends. Take care and step into the everyday with purpose.