What is happiness to you?
Is it quality time on a warm beach with loved ones where the stresses of regular life have shifted themselves quietly into the back of your mind? Or is it owning a multi-million dollar company that runs like clockwork and provides for you and your family even while you sleep?
No matter how you define happiness, one thing remains true: It is completely subjective. Subjective not only to you, but also to every moment in your life. I doubt that if you created a vision board five years ago that your dreams and desires would completely match those of today.
While the pursuit of happiness can certainly be a wonderful motivator, I've recently began to question how many of us see it in that way. Are we actually being driven by what we would like to accomplish, or are we looking at our lives and focusing on the difference between what we'd like and how it currently is?
Where We Try to Find and Create Happiness
One of the most common places that we tend to turn to for aid in our pursuit is the world of self-help and personal development. We read books, attend seminars, and complete online courses that are all designed to give us the tools to accomplish our goals and ultimately attain happiness.
As someone who has delved into this world quite substantially, including a very recent binge focused on business growth, I can undoubtedly say that there are a lot of great resources out there.
The issue doesn't lie in the content itself, but rather in how we apply it. A number of the life coaching greats, including Tony Robbins, have openly admitted how much of their continued success is contingent upon us not dedicating to and applying what they offer.
How many times have you found yourself incredibly inspired by a personal development principle the moment you processed it, only to let it dwindle from your life a mere week later?
Perhaps if we actually stuck with these teachings, we'd not only attain much of what we are striving for, but also realize that happiness is a lot simpler than we realize or are willing to accept.
Take the time right now to ask yourself two questions:
What is happiness to me?
What makes me happy?
Chances are that your answer to question one was far more elaborate than what you (probably quickly) listed off for question two.
When asked to describe happiness we tend to imagine a state of being we need to somehow not only create but sustain.
But when we shorten the word to happy, we list off far more simple experiences and preferences that emotionally trigger a pleasant frame of mind, even if just for a fleeting second.
Things such as quality time with a pet, cuddling with a loved one, and watching a favourite sports team can all make us happy, but fall short in filling the void to sustained happiness.
Rather than focusing on the pieces to what we feel will provide us with eternal happiness, perhaps we should instead focus on making consistent time for what makes us happy. Having done this for a little while now, I find that it not only improves my daily mood, but has also gone a long way toward bringing me closer to accomplishing a lot of what I want in the grander scheme of things.
Should We Strive for Peace Instead?
How many things currently in your life did you once desire? Whether it be a loving partner, a job that provides for you, or a place to call home, we've all accomplished at least one of our once-seen-as-keys to happiness.
Having accomplished that, are you satisfied with yourself and in a state of happiness? The likely answer is no, because as I briefly alluded to above, the pursuit of happiness is a continual chase rather than a concrete state of being.
Look at the lives of celebrities, athletes, and business moguls who have all far exceeded most of what we believe would make us happy. Are any of them truly satisfied with where they are? Or are they just as troubled and lost as we are?
As part of the process in making consistent time for what makes you happy, choose to pursue peace instead. Peace comes from within, and can be attained and sustained much more easily.
Finding peace includes appreciating where you currently are in life, valuing the tools you have available to you, and approaching the future guided by your passions rather than heavy needs.