I’m come to realize that I have been self-sabotaging my life for years now. I’ve been a person who dreams big and never feels satisfaction in the victories. And I’ve struggled with understanding why that is.
And after coming out of this last season of depression I think I’ve finally realized what it is.
I’ve been chasing happiness.
Well that’s not so bad, right? Happiness is the key to a successful life, or so I’ve been told.
But it’s not. It’s a lie.
Now before you start thinking I’m crazy, let me explain. It’s another example of expectation versus reality.
I’ve been trying so hard in my life to grab hold of happiness and to never let it go. But you can not live in happiness. You can live in MOMENTS of happiness, but not a constant state of it. If your life was constantly happy it would undervalue the truly special moments.
So what should you be living your life for?
Now, I grew up believing that contentment was a bad word. I don’t think I was raised this way, but I’ve seen and heard others talk about how contentment was settling. That successful people are never content and always strive to be the best. Innovation and advancements come from always doing more. Wanting more. Being more.
And it only sets you up for a life of failure and disappointment. Because always looking for happiness makes the fall to sadness so much harder than it should be.
If I were to stare up at the night sky and only dream of reaching the stars, I would lose sight of the fact that in that moment I get to be present and enjoy the beauty that comes from them. I will never reach the stars, because it’s unobtainable. But I can be present every single evening and look at those stars and be reminded of where I am. And who I am.
Let me put it another way. Say you were really struggling financially your whole life and your goal was to someday have $1,000,000 in your bank account, even though you’ve never been able to even save $1,000. So you have this big dream. And you work incredibly hard every day. And you change your life and start saving like you’ve never saved before. And let’s say after the first 6 months you finally save $1,000.
You should be ecstatic, right? You’ve never had $1,000 before so that’s a really big deal! You should be so incredibly proud!
But you’re not. You don’t even acknowledge it because you set a goal of $1,000,000. So $1,000 doesn’t even matter.
So you blow right past that and 2 years later you have $10,000. HUGE DEAL!
It’s not $1,000,000. So who cares?
And you keep doing this for years and years and year. And you’re never satisfied. And then one day you find out you’re dying. And you look back on your life and all you can see is that you never reached your goal.
And you lost sight of all the beauty in the world around you. And all the recognition for the amazing achievements you made along the way.
You were working towards something that was unobtainable. $1,000,000 is a dream for a day that may never come. You decided to work towards something that couldn’t be guaranteed.
You undervalued every other moment in your life for something that you were never going to get.
That’s the thing about happiness. We often think that happiness is that $1,000,000. But it’s not. Happiness was in that $1,000 achievement. It was a moment. And it deserved to be recognized. It deserved to be treated for what it was.
Now take this example and apply it to your own life. Are you happy? As in truly happy.
I hope the answer is no. Unless this a moment that brings you such joy and elation that it is something you will forever cherish.
This is a happy moment for me because I’ve realized that I can start giving value to the moments in my life that truly deserve them.
I want to live a life of contentment with moments of happiness and joy.
Contentment is “a state of satisfaction”. How beautiful is that? To live in a constant state of satisfaction in what you have, who you are and what you do.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t work towards more? Absolutely not. Have dreams and have goals but don’t lose sight of the here and now. Acknowledge the little moments.
Stop stealing value from the things that matter.
Seeing my loved ones are moments of happiness. And if I lived in that moment I would accept it for the special opportunity to be with people that it is.
I get to have this beautiful family. If my goal is just to think about raising them well and to get into a good college and to have a great life I will lose sight of the little moments that matter.
Like my son being sick and coming to me in the middle of the night to make him feel better. Seems silly, right? But it’s not. If I didn’t stop and be in that moment I wouldn’t have realized that it’s an acknowledgement of the changes I’ve made to be more present in my children’s life. He’s finally feeling comfortable to come to me for support and not just to be the parent who works to make the money.
It’s the little moments that matter. Happiness is in the moments, not a constant state. Recognize them.
Are you happy? Or are you a happy person? A good response would be “I am an optimistic person who looks for the moments of happiness.” It grounds me. It pulls me back into this moment. It lets me be present for the ones in my life that need me the most. My “I love you” means more. The hug is special. Your time becomes valuable. Doing life together matters more.
People’s words are taken for face value. And you can accept them and believe them.
And you can start seeing yourself the way other people see you.
If I am honest with myself, if I take the goal of happiness out of the equation then I have lived a content adult life.
And that’s success.
A constant state of happiness is a dream that can only be achieved when we get to leave this world to be with Jesus.
I will be happy one day, but for now I will take pride in the contentment and recognize the moments of happiness that come along.
And I will start seeing myself the way that others see me. And for some of you, that’s a really big deal. Some of you are so special to my life and have changed me and you will never understand the impact you have had. And I’m starting to realize that to some of you I am someone special to you. And that I have changed your life, too. And that is a big deal.
When I stop looking for happiness and start realizing contentment is key the moments of love are truly going to shine bright.
I love you. Please take that for the value I put into it. Let it sit with you a moment.
And I hope reading that was a moment of happiness for you, for letting you know was one for me.
I’m looking forward to this new lens on life. Healing is beautiful.
I want to lie on the the ground with my loved ones – my wife, my children, my best friends, my family – and enjoy the beauty of the night sky together. Not reaching out to try and grab them for myself, but being present with those around me, feeling God’s love and theirs, and storing the moment of happiness in my heart.
One thought on “It’s Not About “Happiness””
What a wonderful post. So full of wisdom.