I used to think for a long time that the main goal of our life should be happiness. But I was wrong. This was something I realized when a thought just struck me about what makes me truly happy. And an answer came to me that if we want to be happy, we must not seek happiness.
I will tell you why and what you must seek instead.
Happiness may be (and is) the purpose for which we are born but it should never be our goal. It cannot be our goal. It is not the same as you trying to reach a certain goal with your health where you say, “My goal is to lose weight this year” or you trying to reach a goal of 5000 followers/subscribers on Instagram or Youtube.
Happiness can be a means, but never our goal.
But what happens if we seek happiness?
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This whole world revolves around happiness. Each one of us in this world is in the pursuit of happiness seeking happiness directly in one thing or the other, but do you see people genuinely happy around you?
If you go and ask a drug addict, why he takes drugs to the point of losing everything else in the world, he will say it is because the drug is the only thing that makes him happy.
Politicians lose all their self-respect and value because they seek happiness in Power.
A woman gets treated miserably but still chooses to be with her man, all because she seeks happiness in that man.
And as for ourselves, we think we are doing something because it makes us happy, but actually, it is not.
For example, I may use and check my phone, social media, or watch series after series all day thinking it gives me happiness but it is only pleasure.
We might party all night, have fun with our friends, have all kinds of stories to tell, engage in laughter and everything, but at the end of the day, when silence comes and it’s only us and our thoughts, we realize that our happiness was only short-lived.
To experience happiness again, we again have to party, we again have to look for another series to watch, we again have to post something that keeps us engaged. It is the reason why a drug addict again has to do drugs.
But again, at the end of the day, we still feel empty as if something significant is missing from our lives but we don’t know what. We just know that we are not truly happy.
The problem with happiness
There are two problems with happiness,
- The first is that we are too concerned with happiness. We don’t allow ourselves to feel low, sad, bored, or anything.
If we’re sad or feeling low, deep inside we make ourselves feel anxious thinking that we’re sad, we’re lonely, we’re bored, we’re not happy and that we shouldn’t be sad, we shouldn’t be feeling all this.
- And since we get too concerned with making ourselves feel happy, so we seek happiness all the time in instant gratification and shallow pleasures, seeking happiness in people, in things, or even in places. We confuse happiness with pleasures but the two are not the same.
And this is what makes us entangled in the illusion of happiness.
Of course, indulging in pleasures is also not bad. You deserve indulgence too, but don’t do it for seeking happiness itself. Do it for seeking pleasure itself.
Don’t be concerned with happiness at all. Just forget about happiness, and you will see you have become happy and the kind of happy that withstands.
Remember, Happiness is always the result of the things you do and not the things directly.
Happiness, like love, comes to you naturally. Just as you cannot seek love if you wish to fall in love, you cannot seek happiness if you wish to be happy.
So forget about happiness, and seek these instead if you want to be happy.
What to seek instead
1. Seek satisfaction
Your heart can get confused mistaking happiness with pleasure, but it can never get confused with satisfaction.
Your heart longs for satisfaction. Seek to satisfy your heart and you don’t have to seek happiness at all.
For me, when I know I have done something useful that my future self will be thankful for, instead of mindlessly scrolling over my phone, it satisfies me.
When I give time to my writing and finish an article before the deadline I set, it satisfies me. When I go out for a morning walk just like I resolved the night before, it makes me feel satisfied. When I wake up early and watch the sunrise, it satisfies me. Through these, my anxieties went away on its own and has brought me happiness unconsciously.
Ways to find satisfaction:
- Fulfilling your inner commitments: Start fulfilling your inner commitments, no matter how small, and you slowly stop letting yourself down.
Imagine how awesome you will start feeling about yourself as you begin to count on yourself. Your relationship with yourself will become strong and this will make you feel satisfied. And when you feel satisfied, happiness comes naturally.
- Find Satisfaction at work: We will be doing our work for most of our lives, if we don’t find satisfaction in our work, we will never be happy. No matter what work you do, even if you don’t love it, you can still do it by giving your heart to it until you find something you love.
No work happens in isolation. Because of your work, you put something to the world and you get something in return. Once you recognize that you are being useful to someone and how useful your work is to you in your life, it is easier to find satisfaction
- Find satisfaction in finding and fulfilling your passion: Nobody is born without passion.
I used to think that I was born without any passion or interest. As a teenager, I used to write poems but I never considered it as my passion until I started reading good books and journaling.
In tough times, writing helped me and continuous to help me tremendously. It brings me clarity, encouragement, and peace.
So after all the years of writing only for myself, this year I decided to start writing for others (that is you) to help you in your journey with the things I have learned and continue to learn.
It turns out I have found my passion through blogging and I am trying to fulfill it. I don’t know what the future holds, but it is bringing me satisfaction and happiness comes as a by-product.
You might be passionate about music, drawing, knitting, cooking, gardening or anything.
Most of us dismiss it as not important, but anything that makes you forget time and which you can go deep into doing that thing is your passion.
But often the biggest obstacle to fulfilling our passion is nothing else but our own lesser self that feels scared about the uncertainty, with not knowing, so here is a post that might help:
How to let go of fear and embrace the joy of not knowing.
2. Seek Inspiration:
We don’t feel inspired every day, and it is okay. Inspiration unlike happiness, has to be seeked. And to seek it, you have to carve out time in your day for it.
Give it at least 20 minutes to seeking inspiration through whatever way(s) you may like.
Ways to find inspiration:
You can seek inspiration in so many ways. We have access to an almost unlimited amount of inspiration, especially with the growing technology. You can find inspiration in
- a good walk
- the sight of the mountains or the moon
- poems, or from good quotes
- youtube videos
- soothing music
- writing in a journal.
(you won’t know how much you can inspire your own self by writing in a journal if you don’t. Here is a 21-day journaling guide for you to turn journaling into a habit and so as to make it easy. )
If you don’t have the habit of reading books, then you can read plenty of good blog posts and subscribe to awesome bloggers.
I have only recently opened the doors to this blogging world and I can’t believe I had been missing out on such a great part of the internet!
I love reading articles from Zen Habits, Cup of Jo, James Clear, Neel Nanda, makingsenseofcents, Digitaldeepak who inspires me to blog, from a YouTuber named Ali abdal, and so many others.
(I make time to read at least 1 blog post before I go to bed. It takes less than 10 minutes)
Forget happiness and also unhappiness. Let go of what drains your energy and Lookout for inspiration every day.
3. Seek Meaning:
True Happiness is an independent variable. It does not depend on anything.
When you seek meaning, you will never lose track of your happiness. Even on days when you’re struggling, if you bring meaning to your struggles, you can still be happy.
Ways to find meaning:
- Through autobiographies: Reading autobiographies of great men and women can help us find meaning in life through knowing how they gave meaning to their life.
Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for 27 long years never lost sight of his meaning. Even in prison, he sought to find meaning in his struggles, and he did not let it go to waste.
Even though he was not happy, he was never unhappy, all because he continued to seek inspiration and satisfaction in his day to day works, as simply in things like waking up at 5 am and exercising, making his bed, singing, and planting vegetables.
- Constantly think of your ‘why’: When we think of our ‘why’, we can never go directionless. Thinking of our ‘why’ will help us bring value to our sufferings.
Life is not always full of happiness, but it does not mean that we have to suffer. Even if we are suffering, we can give our suffering meaning by how we choose to respond to it.
As Victor E. Frankl says,
‘He who has a why to live for can endure almost any how’
And Dr. Frankl himself by choosing to seek meaning endured the harshest of afflictions in the Nazi concentration like Auschwitz and came out to write his experiences in the book, ‘Man’s search for meaning’ of how he was able to see life as meaningful despite the harshest of circumstances which has helped millions of people around the world. If you haven’t yet read this book, I truly reccomend you to read this book.
So here I end my post.
I hadn’t expected it to be this long. In this world where we can’t even keep our attention to one thing for more than 2 minutes, if you have come this far, then you’re already seeking satisfaction, inspiration, and meaning.
Happiness must happen and by seeking satisfaction, inspiration, and meaning, happiness will happen naturally for happiness is contained within them.
I Wish you a great week ahead!
- P.S What I lost and what I gained by learning to say ‘No’
- 12 things to let go of to be happy
- Why Thankfulness is mindfulness
- How to Let Go of anxiety and heal yourself
- How to Slow down and simplify life
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