The pressure is on to have a happy life. The message is if you don’t have ongoing happiness then you need to pursue it.
You need to find your purpose, change your job, get a new partner, move locations—do something, anything, to find the happiness you’re missing.
It doesn’t work that way.
A never-ending happy life is unrealistic. There is no such thing.
Let me explain.
A never-ending happy life is unattainable.
Happiness is a pseudo-emotional state of being that has no singular definition. It is an enigma. It means different things to different people. We cannot achieve a state of happiness without being able to clearly define it.
Yet we’re bombarded with the idea of pursuing happiness. The concept is supported by a mega industry. Yet, for all the books, seminars, modalities etc. to finding a happy life, there seems to be very few people succeeding.
My evidence is this; if there were a single, simple method to a happy life, the “happy life” industry wouldn’t exist.
Yet we get the message that we need to “be happy” all the time. Why would we want that? Imagine a man walking around with a robotic smirk on his face, nodding and saying “Don’t worry, it’s all going to work out.” When in reality, someone close to him has died, or his partner and him are going through a rough patch, or his investments lost 30% of their value overnight.
Life isn’t only about being happy. Life is about experiences, all of them: the good, bad, the ugly and the amazing. I want to experience all the emotions that come bubbling up inside of me. I didn’t quit alcohol, porn, TV, and career dependencies to walk around in a state of forced euphoria; “Fake it till you make it.” Not for me. Been there done that. For much of my life I was perpetually faking it, hoping things would eventually get better.
I was checking out of reality when I was engaged in those mind-numbing behaviours. I was in denial of my own pain. I didn’t acknowledge others’ pain. I never fully appreciated the good times. Often, I was going through the motions.
The “pursuit of happiness” sells a false sense of nirvana that awaits us. It is unattainable. We are ultimately going to fail in that quest. It is disappointment waiting to happen.
When I was all-in pursing happiness, and I’d have a bad day, I’d be frustrated with myself. I’d ask myself, ‘Why can’t I just be happy? All the experts say it can be done.’ I might have done yoga, gone for a run, had a rest, yet none of it got me into a state of euphoria I knew as happiness. I thought that I was incapable of achieving the dream of life-long happiness.
I believed I was a failure.
No more. I refuse to give in to the feelings of inadequacy. I refuse to seek the unattainable. Instead, I choose to embrace life, all of it, and experience it to it’s fullest.
I want to feel the pain, anguish, empathy, compassion, sadness, loneliness, anger, joy, and ecstasy. I choose to ride the roller coaster of life.
Life is messy. You’re not really living if you’re not feeling it fully. Let go of the pursuit of happiness. It’s wasting your time and will disappoint you in the end.
It takes courage to fully experience life.
Live life to it’s fullest, all of it. Don’t diminish the downs, because then you also diminish the ups.
It’s takes courage to fully experience life. Embrace it. Relish it. Cry your heart out, and laugh till you cry. Be angry, and be at peace.
A version of this article is also posted on The Good Men Project at http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/pursuit-happiness-overrated/.
I write to inspire men to greater self-awareness, to make better choices and create a better life.
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