Why I Don’t Count On Happiness
I’m so done with the ‘pursuit of happiness.’
Most of us are not lead to happiness when we chase it; we’re often headed into disillusionment.
Take everyday proclamations. Or New Year’s Resolutions.
There is always that obsessive desire underneath for that one thing you can never quite grasp: happiness.
“When I lose weight, I will be happy!”
“When those difficult people are out of my life, I will be happy!”
“I Will Banish Stress…It Is My Time for Happiness!”
Happiness does not linger into infinity. It is never guaranteed to stick or stay, no matter what you do.
In the dictionary, it is described as a STATE of mind.
It is a feeling. It is temporary, it is fleeting. It’s a promise that keeps us obsessively yearning and coveting.
Happiness is something that rises within us, often unexpectedly. It doesn’t come from somewhere else or something else.
Spontaneous. Meaning: spur of the moment.
So why do we chase after it, lust after it, and count on it?
Try This Instead: Contentment
What a difference a word makes.
Contentment has staying power. It sticks around. It is loyal. It is a wonderful, comforting companion. A best friend. It doesn’t make promises it can’t keep. It doesn’t lie. It doesn’t cause depression or despair when it doesn’t materialize. It just IS.
How To Achieve Contentment
You’re probably already there and don’t realize it.
Here are 8 ways to appreciate it:
Non-Material ‘Wealth.’ There is contentment to be enjoyed every day, right under our noses. Caring friends. An adoring pet. A place to live. A hunk of chocolate cake in the fridge. When you take inventory regularly of everything that works well in your life – material obsessions aside – contentment follows.
Skills and Talents. What great fortune to have them! You enjoy them, share them, pursue them, help others benefit from them. You also elevate your self-esteem every time you use them.
Proactive Behaviour. There are always ways to improve your life. There are always ways to solve problems. When your intent is to find answers and solutions (rather than than complaining, bitching and procrastinating,) contentment follows.
Living for Now. Happiness is something longed for in the future. In chasing after happiness, you can’t enjoy this moment. Live for this day and the beauty it contains or you lose this day forever. Contentment is about mindfulness, about right now: it’s not fixated on the unknown.
Accepting ‘What Is.‘ Accepting that life isn’t perfect, won’t ever be perfect and that there will be bumps, knocks and uncertainty along the way is called wisdom. A realistic and accepting view of life is comforting and liberating.
Safeguarding Sanity. Keeping a healthy distance from life’s drama is essential to wellness. Limiting exposure to the 24/7 breaking news cycle, social media and screen time is one example. Or by limiting time spent with people and situations that wear you down.
Accepting Stress. Banishing stress is never going to happen. Show me one person who has eliminated stress from their life. What you can do is intentionally reduce the amount of stress that you allow in your life. This takes guts and determination. And it leads to contentment.
Respect Yourself. This begins with how you treat yourself. The number of practices and tools which calm the soul, elevate tranquility, and promote wellness and self-esteem are seemingly endless. You can lean on these practices for a lifetime. You can continue to learn from them. They are always there for you.
These examples are but a few.
Now that’s contentment!
Why It’s A Sure Bet
We will all experience exceptional ‘happy’ moments here and there in this life; ones we wish we could hold on to, stop time for, keep alive forever.
Then, in a flash, those moments are gone. Maybe their elusiveness is the very reason we desire them.
Being ‘content,’ in contrast, isn’t as magical, glamorous or sexy. It’s achievable. Nothing exciting about that.
But contentment is always there for you. It’s not mysterious or intangible.
It’s comforting. Calming. And always reliable.
I choose contentment.
Recommended Further Reading
“Happiness Quiz: How Happy Are You?” (I bristled at the title of this test, but it is more about contentment than happiness.)
Jennifer Kass, “The Myth of Happiness.”
Sonja Lyubomirsky Ph.D., “7 Myths about Happiness We Need to Stop Believing.”
Dr. Andrew Weil, “Spontaneous Happiness.“