in Personal

Stop Pursuing Happiness, That’s Not How it Works

happyI will be happy.

It’s tempting to think that way isn’t it?  To think of happiness as this state of living that you can one day achieve?

You can actually close your eyes and picture yourself, happy, with all of these things around you.  Money, babies, a company, adventure, friends… once I accomplish these things I will be happy.

Bad news. It’s just not going to happen.

You can’t plan to be happy.  Happiness is in the present moment.  It’s an emotion, one of many that we have.  Sadness is also in the present moment, and it’s pretty hard to avoid sometimes.

There may be times when you’re happy more frequently or sad more frequently.  But I assure you, you’re never going to always be any one emotion.  Emotions are fleeting and ever changing.

Meaning on the other hand… meaning is in the past and the future. Meaning can be absolute.

Because happiness and meaning are unique. Sometimes they cause each other, but sometimes they come at the cost of the other.

For example you might be happy when you go out drinking with your friends, but that experience isn’t very meaningful.  And you might volunteer at a hospital and see horrible things happen to people every day which make you upset, but what you’re doing gives your life a great deal of meaning.

Living a life of meaning is more of a status that you CAN strive for.  But it doesn’t have to be a “one day” thing.  Meaning comes from the little things.  You can start living that life right now.  You don’t have to start a company, sell it, travel the world, make babies and fix the planet before you can start living a life of meaning.  Hold the door for someone. Do something unexpected to help someone. Perform acts of kindness without anyone else knowing that you did it.

And when you’re feeling unhappy, that’s okay.  Recognize it and accept it.  I’m upset. I’m stressed.  I’m worried. Say it out loud.  If you recognize it and call it out, then you can accept it and move through it.  It’s just an emotion. We get a lot of them.  They come and go.

Stop pursuing happiness.  Be happy now.  Or don’t, either way.

Focus on meaning.  I think striving for meaning is your best bet at increasing your frequency of happiness.

 

  • sherrierohde

    evanhamilton DavidSpinks Good read! Impact and meaning have far more value than happiness.

  • DavidSpinks

    evanhamilton Thanks dude (=. How was your first day?

    • evanhamilton

      DavidSpinks Np. It was good, though lots of firehose-drinking. 🙂

      • DavidSpinks

        evanhamilton I bet. Lets catch up once you get settled into your rhythm.

        • evanhamilton

          DavidSpinks Fo. Sho!

  • DanPierson

    alexshye this is a great, great post. thanks for sharing /cc DavidSpinks

    • DavidSpinks

      DanPierson thanks dude. Subwaysets looks so badass.

      • alexshye

        DavidSpinks DanPierson Seriously badass. The only thing missing from my last NYC trip was a Subwaysets show!

        • DavidSpinks

          alexshye DanPierson I’ll be in NYC next week. Any subwaysets planned?

        • DanPierson

          alexshye DavidSpinks thanks guys! i wish they were that easy to put on…next show is planned for 11/30.

  • DavidSpinks

    joelgascoigne thanks for reading Joel. Big fan of your posts as well.

    • joelgascoigne

      DavidSpinks that’s awesome to hear David, thanks! love your other post on habits too, I loved The Power of Habit 🙂

      • DavidSpinks

        joelgascoigne Really enjoying Power of Habit. Any other books you like in the theme of habits?

        • joelgascoigne

          DavidSpinks the other key one for me is “the power of full engagement” by tonyschwartz. Read that probably 3 times now, made a big dif.

        • DavidSpinks

          joelgascoigne beautiful. Added to my list.

    • joelgascoigne

      DavidSpinks you have a new subscriber 🙂

      • DavidSpinks

        joelgascoigne badass. Excited for some good discussions.

  • _ob_yan

    DavidSpinks do you think satisfaction comes into play at all?

    • http://whatspinksthinks.com/ DavidSpinks

      @_ob_yan how do you mean?

    • DavidSpinks

      _ob_yan how do you mean?

      • _ob_yan

        DavidSpinks well a hard day of physical labor may not have much meaning behind it but can feel very satisfying, which can lead to happiness

        • _ob_yan

          DavidSpinks obviously the end goal isn’t happiness, like you said our mood fluctuates. I think satisfaction has some role in it all though

        • DavidSpinks

          _ob_yan good question. Do you think that satisfaction is different from meaning? Sounds like it.

        • _ob_yan

          DavidSpinks hmm…maybe not. I’d need to think about that one.

        • _ob_yan

          DavidSpinks I think satisfaction can be found without meaning. But with meaning also comes satisfaction?

        • DavidSpinks

          _ob_yan that sounds about right. I would actually say satisfaction is closer to happiness than meaning. It’s fleeting in the same way.

        • DavidSpinks

          _ob_yan that sounds about right. I would actually say satisfaction is closer to happiness than meaning. It’s fleeting in the same way.

        • DavidSpinks

          _ob_yan even if you have a hard day of physical labor, the way you feel after a good day’s work is happiness.

        • _ob_yan

          DavidSpinks I think you’ve got it.

  • DanPierson

    Something else that I think contributes to these feelings — we’re living in a moment when success, important relationships, etc are broadcast across social media. We’re connected to all of these amazing people doing amazing things, which is mostly phenomenal — but can cause unhealthy anxiety over one’s own sense of satisfaction, identity, and place. 
    You don’t often hear about the daily struggle on FB and Twitter — usually just the high points from a select, awesome group of people. I think this creates a lot of stress that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

  • AllyManet

    Nice post. I like that you call out the fleeting nature of feelings. Truth is, meaning or not, you’re still going to have days where you’re sad, feeling unaccomplished or just … off. Constantly searching for something that doesn’t exist (pure, unadulterated & consistent happiness) will only ever leave you feeling lost. 
    And I agree with DanPierson – I think social media has a huge role in people feeling inadequate. We’re all constantly comparing ourselves to the make-up coated versions of people we know. Speaking personally, after college I’d see people I went to school with get the types of jobs I was looking for and think to myself, “But I’m smarter than him/her!”  But we never know the full story, so we can never really compare lives.

  • DavidSpinks

    itsmesahana thanks! Appreciate the love.

  • DavidSpinks

    itsmesahana thanks! Appreciate the love.

  • DavidSpinks

    itsmesahana thanks! Appreciate the love.

  • DavidSpinks

    prtini thanks Heather! Miss you. You still killin it over there? (=

    • prtini

      DavidSpinks Trying. 🙂 What’s the next LetsFeast class? If you do a vegetarian one again, I’m in!

  • Joel Stevens

    Glad to read you words.  Suffer and you will be great.  Crowns of honor and compassion and life.

  • haya jamie

    Thanks  http://whatspinksthinks.com/author/DavidSPinks/,  I don’t think we disagree, I’m simply giving my interpretation of Happiness.

    Q: is happiness a “Thought” or a “Emotion”?   

    A “Thought” of satisfaction resulting in a happy emotion/feeling is attainable by focusing on being satisfied,
     as the popular saying goes :

    Those who HAVE, doesn’t matter how little….   Those who DONT HAVE, doesn’t matter how much they do… 

    A satisfied feeling depends on setting the bar of acceptance, in achievements and in materialism while your goals should continue to be higher, you can have satisfaction from the smallest, littlest.

    Satisfaction is pursuable by thinking right, by dividing emotion from goal, satisfaction is putting meaning in what we do
    and for any reason do it.

    Happiness is a Emotion that can result from the momentary Satisfaction (giving meaning) of the past, present and the future.

    One cannot pursue happiness but be…… but I’m sad (this terrible thing happened)……      being happy means focusing on a satisfactory part of a moment, in that moment,
    sometimes the picture is clear and in focus but many times its blurry (for so many reasons) and it may take effort and or intervention to find focus.

    Meaning depends on one’s interpretation, what means to me may not mean to you and can easily be blurred by EXPECTATIONS.

    are we doing things to be happy? or are we happy because we did things?
    are we doing things cause its meaningful? or what we did was/is meaningful?

    Money, Fame, is pursued for Satisfaction, which depends on your satisfaction,

    Materialism can only give you Momentary(while you have it) satisfaction =Happiness and of the future(dreaming you will get it).
    spirituality (Not Religion) such as :(meaningful) good deeds, sacrifice,
     can give you satisfaction=happiness of the past, and present. 
    Being HAPPY is ACCEPTING ‘MEANING’ even below your original EXPECTATION.

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