By Will Aylward | Tiny Buddha
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” ~Alan Watts
I love how instant modern life has become.
When I’m hungry, without really moving, I can instantly get food delivered to me. Pizza, of course. When I’m hungry for knowledge, at the touch of a button on my mobile, I can discover answers to the questions I’m pondering. No need to head to the library to search for and flick through books.
Some would argue that this instantaneousness is making us lazy. Regardless, I find it astonishing the speed we can get what we want.
Why, then, have I found myself delaying the one thing I want most—happiness?
Like many of us, I’m driven. I love to challenge myself, set goals, and do my best to achieve them.
There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious. It’s only a problem when I tell myself “I won’t be happy until… happens” or “I won’t be happy until I have…”
When I set goals for myself, they’re naturally future-based, and when I tie my happiness to those goals, it too becomes a thing of the future.
But is there another way? I’ve been pondering this question for a while, and I’ve decided to choose happiness before success. Here are three reasons why.
1. There will always be more to achieve.
In the past, once I achieved a goal, I’ve barely celebrated before setting a ‘’bigger, better’’ goal and moving on to the next thing.
This focus on the next thing looks suspiciously like the journey we find ourselves caught up in as children. Little school. Big school. First job. Better job. Buy a house. Promotions. Buy a bigger house. Work. Working harder. Harder still.
Alan Watts said this about getting to the end of our lives after chasing the elusive next thing: “But we missed the whole point all along, it was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or to dance whilst the music was being played.”
There will always be more. More success (whatever that looks like for us individually). More money, bigger houses, faster cars. We have to decide, at what point we are ‘’there’’? What if we were there now? What if we already have everything we need to be content and simply enjoy our lives, even if there’s more we’d like in the future?
2. My happiness now will attract success in the future.
With this journey we’re on, the assumption is that once we’re “there,” once we’ve “made it,” we’ll be happy. In other words, once we have the success we’ll be happy. What if it was the other way around? What if once we’re happy, we will have success? Maybe not society’s definition of success, but the success we’ve defined on our own terms.