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7 Crazy Mistakes We Make in the Pursuit of Happiness

Posted by on November 23, 2014 in Conscious Living, Happiness & Humor with 0 Comments

Marc and Angel Hack Life

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of.  You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
―Albert Camus

Let’s face it.  Every time you turn around, you find new advice on being happy.  Books promising to reveal the true secret of happiness.  Blog posts telling you, “Write down three things that make you happy today.”  Friends saying, “Move on!” and, “Cheer up!” after you’ve had a bad day.

And maybe you’re wondering… what’s wrong with that?

Happiness is a good thing right?  Well, yes.  Of course it is.

But we are being taught that our lives should be a straight and narrow path toward happiness.

We are taught that we should strive for happiness, and happiness alone in everything we do.

And that if we’re not always feeling happy, then something is terribly wrong.

The truth is, happiness should not be our only focus, and continuously striving for it, to the detriment of everything else, can actually cause us to make lots of mistakes.  Here are seven such mistakes, and how to fix them:

1.  We view setbacks and growing pains as failures.

When we actively pursue happiness, anything that makes us feel unhappy can seem like a failure – such as a simple setback or challenging moment – when in reality these things are unavoidable, normal parts of personal growth.  Sometimes it’s just easier to feel depressed and trapped by these experiences and let them get the best of us.

Think about a time in your life when you faced a challenge.  Maybe you lost yourjob, were betrayed by a friend, or got rejected by a loved one.  How did you respond to this?  Did you feel like a victim, or did you embrace it as an opportunity to grow as a person and learn something valuable?

If you’re like most people (including myself), you probably struggled to have a positive attitude at the time, and the situation was probably incredibly hard to deal with.

And the truth is, challenges are never easy.

However, setbacks and challenging moments in life are also opportunities in disguise for something bigger and better.  If we can learn to appreciate and embrace them equally to the moments that make us feel happy, we can more easily see the light in our darkest moments, push through these difficult times and make the most of every opportunity to heal and grow.

2.  We get addicted to short-term, quick fixes of pleasure.

In our impatience to find happiness, we often seek pleasure instead because it’s easier to achieve in the short-term.

This can cause us to rely on pleasurable experiences in an unhealthy way.  For example, we might actually find ourselves feeling anxious if we don’t have anything to look forward to, such as an exciting vacation in the near future.

But relying on pleasurable experiences as a means to happiness will only leave us always wanting more – much like a drug where we become an addict to our next fix. Because pleasure is short lived and offers no sense of deep fulfillment.

“The pleasure-centered person, too soon bored with each succeeding level of “fun”, constantly cries for more and more.  So the next new pleasure has to be bigger and better, more exciting, with a bigger “high.”
―Steven Covey

Long-lasting happiness is not found in quick doses of pleasure, but rather through meaningful experiences over time, such as nurturing a passion, overcoming hardships, learning new life skills, and making a difference by enriching the lives of others.  (Read The How of Happiness.)

3.  We neglect the amazing people around us.

Deliberately striving for happiness can also lead us to be self-centered – “I want happiness and I want it now!” – instead of achieving happiness over time through meaningful experiences and service to a greater cause.

In this case, where the focus is only on today’s must-have dose of happiness, we become more of a taker rather than a giver.  We focus all of our attention on ourselves – me, me, me – so our immediate desires are more easily met, instead of considering new ways to make a rewarding, lasting difference in our lives and the lives around us.  We prioritize our pursuit over all the people – family, friends and strangers – who need us.

The truth is, making a difference by giving to others is actually one of the greatest ways that we can find happiness.  There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.  It gives us a greater sense of meaning, purpose and fulfillment and often makes us feel much more content with our lives and who we are as individuals.

“If you want happiness for an hour – take a nap.  If you want happiness for a day – go fishing.  If you want happiness for a month – get married.  If you want happiness for a year – inherit a fortune.  If you want happiness for a lifetime – help others.”
―Chinese proverb

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