Why You Should Stop Chasing Happiness

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Every time I turn around there seem to be messages of happiness. Things like:

  • Five ways to live a happy life
  • The number 1 reason you are not happy
  • You can be happy by doing this one thing.

Happiness is overrated, and here is why

HAPPINESS gives us a feeling. PURPOSE gives us a meaning

To measure our scale of life satisfaction to our level of happiness is like measuring a teacher’s effectiveness by their ability to produce high SAT scores.

The results will always be skewed.

A lot of low-income students do not have access to resources like tutors, nor financial means to re-take standardized tests until they get the score they want. Equally, the school they go to may not be as equipped with up-to-date technology or an adequate library of textbooks.

I’m not going to get into a whole political thing about the haves and have nots, but it is worth noting that like measuring teacher effectiveness by test scores, measuring contentment and life satisfaction by your level of happiness will only leave you angry that you are doing all the things “they” say to do, yet still not feeling happy..

I have heard it said in various ways by various people that the opposite of depression is purpose. I don’t buy this. Depression is a clinical diagnosis. It is not a choice. Tools and coping mechanisms can be put into place to help manage it, but clinical depression is not going to magically go away once you find purpose.

HOWEVER…

Let me put my own spin on it and replace depression, which is a mental disorder, with sadness, which is a shared emotion among everyone. Replacing the word depression with the word sadness not only makes it more universal, but also gives a different meaning. So I am going to re-phrase it to say:

The Opposite of Sadness is not Happiness. The Opposite of Sadness is Purpose


Happiness vs Purpose

At first read, it may seem off base to suggest that we should not strive for happiness. Let me explain.

Happiness

Looking at life through the lens of happiness will leave you feeling hollow. I don’t know about you, but for me happiness comes and goes, and sometimes very unpredictably.

  • There are times when I feel sad when everything is going right
  • There are times when I will be doing the exact same thing on two different days, yet one day I feel happy and the next I feel sad.

Basing the quality of our life on the quantity of our happiness is futile. Emotions can sometimes be confusing. Because of this, we leave ourselves open to feeling like a failure if we cannot sustain happiness.

On the other hand….

PURPOSE

Purpose is not at all an emotion. It is a reason. It answers questions like:

  • What can I offer the world?
  • How can I be of benefit to someone else?
  • What are the skills that I have that others can use?
  • How can I use my experiences (good or bad) to empower myself and others?

HAPPINESS gives us a feeling. PURPOSE gives us a meaning


Choose Purpose Over Happiness

Happiness rides on so many external factors. It is how we choose to interpret events and opinions around us. You can feel happy without having purpose, but that feeling is dependent on outside influences.

On the flip side, when you have purpose, happiness is not as important. Purpose will most likely yield happiness, but even on the sad days, you still have a reason to get out of bed.

In Summary

We cannot always control our happiness, but we can always control our purpose. We get to define who we are. When we take control of our definition, our vision, our goals, we create a barrier around ourselves that prevents others  from interfering with our self-definition.

So what if you feel like you do not have a purpose? I want you to ask yourself, could this be why you are also not feeling happy?

Don’t worry if you are having difficulty finding your purpose. It takes time and a lot of self-discovery. I’m here to guide you on your journey. Never forget, you are worth the effort it takes to live an inspired life!

To understand more about the difference between depression and sadness, read this article by Psychology Today.

 

Monica Pitek-Fugedi
Nationally Certified Counselor

 

 

 

 

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