I know this runs contrary to much of what you’ve been told, but achieving your goals will NOT give you lasting happiness. Working towards and achieving goals is the PURSUIT of happiness because the happiness is only temporary – until the euphoria wears off and then we’re back exactly where we were before. What will give you MORE happiness is learning to deal confidently with your difficult feelings and emotions …
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have goals. But what’s more critical to lasting happiness is how we deal with life’s inevitable problems.
Imagine for a moment that you are a billionaire (of course being a millionaire is not enough these days!). You can have anything you want. Yes, some goals may still take a while to achieve but you’d have the money to pay every expert to teach or help you, or keep trying without fear of financial consequences. You pay people to do anything you don’t like to do – housekeeping, tax returns, picking up the dry cleaning, someone to help you exercise and keep you on track. You’ll have your pick of the litter when it comes to a romantic partner and cool friends and the best TVs, cars, homes – every toy you ever wanted.
Yay! And yet we all know how that can end. Think about all the stars who are unhappy, depressed, drug, sex or alcohol addicts – and more. I’m sure a large part of that is because you can’t buy true love or friendship. But let’s say you’ve been lucky! Now I want you to imagine that you have all those things AND you have a partner and friends who love you for you.
And then your dog gets run over…
Bear with me for a second. The point I’m making is that even with ALL the money we ever wanted AND a loving family and friends we can still get cancer, our loved ones can get hit by a bus, our house can get burgled. We still get food poisoning, stub our toes, get stung by wasps and sun-burned. You see the thing we all like to forget is that (and please pardon my “French” here) however ‘wonderful’ life is, sh*t still happens.
We’re led to believe by society, films, advertising and sometimes even the self-help industry that it’s achieving our goals (or money) that will make us happy. And yes, achieving our goals gives us a burst of happiness. But what helps us be CONSISTENTLY happy in life is when we learn to COPE with life’s inevitable difficulties – and the resulting painful feelings and emotions.
Of course there are many other factors to lasting happiness including – being happy with what we have, accepting and loving who we are, having enough challenge to stretch us without stressing us out, people we can love and trust, helping others and more. But we can have ALL of those – and things will STILL happen that lead to emotional and physical pain.
Because pain and discomfort are a certainty in life. When we know we can deal with ANYthing that life throws at us – we’re no longer afraid. And when we’re no longer afraid we relax and enjoy life more, we take more risks, succeed more and worry less. In short, we’re happier!
So, work towards your goals – and enjoy the temporary happiness you feel when you achieve them. But if you want to be happier for LIFE, remember that confidently dealing with our painful feelings and emotions – rejection, pain, disappointment, betrayal – is where it’s AT. Why not add this as a goal to your list? Because if you learn this skill, you won’t just be pursuing happiness, you’ll be happy for life.
“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.” Theodore Rubin
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