“The happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love you give.”
– Oprah Winfrey
Look back on the goals you have had and striven for throughout your life. Why did you want to achieve those successes? If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll come to the conclusion that your pursuit of success was actually the pursuit of happiness. Everything you’ve ever wanted to accomplish or possess was because you thought it was going to ultimately make you happier.
Hey, no judgement here. Chasing success because you believe that it will make you happier is a completely natural and extremely common practice. Besides the Dalai Lama, pretty much everyone places happiness on the other side of success.
When I get that promotion, then I’ll be happy.
When I finally finish that project, then I’ll be happy.
When I lose that damn 15 pounds, then I’ll be happy.
With our pursuit of happiness (success = happiness) there lies a major flaw in the system and that flaw is that success is a moving target. When we do reach a goal, we raise the bar or put entirely different goal in its place. Anyone who has ever run 5km will tell you that personal victory was short-lived because they started working towards running 10km. Research has proved that the happiness we feel from success is only fleeting because while we could be elated by an ever-lasting feelings of achievement and gratitude, we’re busy looking for the next big thing.
Due to our insatiable desire to have and do more, we never get to this place that we think is going to make us happy which is why I get so friggin’ excited every time my GPS tells me I have arrived.
So if success doesn’t truly make us happy, what does?
What has also been proven by both social psychology and positive psychology is that what makes us humans truly happy is having a sense of meaning and fulfillment by making choices and having habits that generate an overall feeling that our lives matter. Our happiness is a direct reflection of the degree to which our lives have value, purpose, and impact. When engage in things that lead us to being a bright light in this world, we feel good.
Basically, when we remember why we’re here in the first place and do things to fulfil the highest purpose in our life, happiness is a likely result.
The reason you’re here in the first place is to make the world a better place and you do that by lifting up the spirits of others or by making choices that liberate and inspire you.
Yes, acts of kindness/generosity and making a positive difference in the lives of others will help you shine bright, but so will living your truth, social interaction, pursuing your passions, creativity, exercising, and making time for play.
While you most likely don’t have many memories of success making you happy, you probably have many memories of being happy when you put the well-being of others and your well-being at the top of your priority list.
While we may think happiness is a result of success, it turns out that happiness is a result of following your heart.
If you are discontent, discouraged, or feeling “flat”, the best question to ask yourself is, “What am I not doing that I used to do when I felt completely alive?”
Your answer will have nothing to do with success and more to do with making this world a brighter place in some way and that way might be some act of generosity or that way might be something that used to light you up.
So there you have it. Our pursuit of happiness is what has made happiness so darn elusive. Rather than joy being a result of outcomes, we are finding joy in the process of making a positive impact on the lives of others and our own lives rather.
Want to feel completely alive again? Ditch the futile pursuit of happiness and embark on the happiness of pursuit.