Stop Trying To Be Happy






If you have to try to be cool, you will never be cool. If you have to try to be happy, then you will never be happy. The key to finding happiness is to stop looking for it. Happiness, like other emotions, is not something you obtain but rather something you inhabit. It is temporary. Always.

Happiness is not the same as positivity

Chances are you know someone who always appears to be insanely happy regardless of the circumstances or situation. Chances are this is actually one of the most dysfunctional people you know. Denying negative emotions leads to deeper and more prolonged negative emotions and emotional dysfunction. It’s a simple reality: shit happens. Things go wrong. People upset us. Mistakes are made and negative emotions arise. And that’s fine. Negative emotions are necessary and healthy for maintaining a stable baseline happiness in one’s life. The trick with negative emotions is to 1) express them in a socially acceptable and healthy manner and 2) express them in a way which aligns with your values. There’s a lot of people out there who subscribe to the “always be positive” ideology. These people should be avoided just as much as someone who thinks the world is an endless pile of shit. If your standard of happiness is that you’re always happy, no matter what, then you need a reality check.  I think part of it is being subjected to happy, smiley people on television constantly. I think part of it is that some people in the self-help industry want you to feel like there’s something wrong with you all the time. Or maybe it’s just that we’re lazy, and like anything else, we want the result without actually having to do the hard work of it. Which brings me to what actually drives happiness….

Happiness is the process of becoming your ideal self

Raising a child makes us happier than beating a video game. Starting a small business with friends and struggling to make money makes us happier than buying a new computer.

And the funny thing is that all three of the activities above are exceedingly unpleasant and require setting high expectations and potentially failing to always meet them. Yet, they are some of the most meaningful moments and activities of our lives. They involve pain, struggle, even anger and despair, yet once we’ve done them we look back and get misty-eyed about them. Because it’s these sorts of activities that allow us to become our ideal selves. It’s the perpetual pursuit of fulfilling our ideal selves that grants us happiness, regardless of superficial pleasures or pain, regardless of positive or negative emotions. This is why some people are happy in war and others are sad at weddings. It’s why some are excited to work and others hate parties. The traits they’re inhabiting don’t align with their ideal selves.

The end results don’t define our ideal selves. It’s not finishing the marathon that makes us happy; it’s achieving a difficult long-term goal that does. It’s not having an awesome kid to show off that makes us happy; it’s knowing that you gave yourself up to the growth of another human being that is special. It’s not the prestige and money from the new business that makes you happy, it’s the process of overcoming all odds with people you care about.

And this is the reason that trying to be happy inevitably will make you unhappy. Because to try to be happy implies that you are not already inhabiting your ideal self, you are not aligned with the qualities of who you wish to be. After all, if you were acting out your ideal self, then you wouldn’t feel the need to try to be happy. statements about “finding happiness within,” and “knowing that you’re enough.” It’s not that happiness itself is in you, it’s that happiness occurs when you decide to pursue what’s in you.

And this is why happiness is so fleeting. Anyone who has set out major life goals for themselves only to achieve them and realize that they feel the same relative amounts of happiness/unhappiness knows that happiness always feels like it’s around the corner, just waiting for you to show up. No matter where you are in life, you will always perceive there to be one more thing you need to do to be especially happy. But it too, will be a mirage.

And that’s because our ideal self is always just around that corner, always three steps ahead of us. We dream of being a musician and when we’re a musician, we dream of writing a film score, and when write a film score, we dream of writing a screenplay. And what matters isn’t that we achieve each of these plateaus of success, but that we’re consistently moving towards them, day after day, month after month, year after year. The plateaus will come and go, and we’ll continue following our ideal self down the path of our lives.

And with that, with regards to finding happiness, it seems the best advice is also the simplest: Imagine who you want to be and then step towards it. Dream big and then do something. Anything9. The simple act of moving at all will change how you feel about the entire process and serve to inspire you further.

Let go of the imagined result—it’s not necessary. The fantasy and the dream are merely tools to get you off your ass. It doesn’t matter if they come true or not. Live, man. Just live. Stop trying to be happy and just be. Happiness is not something you possess or have, happiness is what you make. Happiness is what you make from what you have. If you don’t have it now, you are never going to have it in the future. That’s because the reason you don’t have it now is because you have not created it. The modern world has swept a lot of people off their feet by showmanship. They try to show you their product or service as something that will grant you that dose of happiness that you’ve been lacking. And then you consume what they have to offer and then it takes you on the high, only to send you back down lower. You grow to begin to fill an hunger or desire for something that is not there. You want to get back to that high feeling. That high feeling is not happiness and if you insist it is, you will descend into epic lows. It boils down to what you believe.

Stop trying to be happy. Never make being happy your goal in life. That is very vague and ridiculous. You will find yourself going after the highs. And if you continue with that, the consistent lows will drag you into chronic depression. Listen, life is difficult. And that is where the fun is really. The puzzle nature of life’s circumstances is what makes living an adventure. If you are up only for the good times, you will be sad for the most part of your life. You must learn how to make something to smile and laugh about from your situations and circumstances. And this doesn’t mean comedy. Comedy is mostly sarcastic and takes people lower with it. Write your own songs and sing them to yourself; that’s far better!

Happiness is what you make. It is a plain (not a high). The problem many have is that they believe that when they are not happy and ecstatic, they are down.  Don’t try to please anybody, it’s not worth it. The harder you try to be happy, the more unhappy you become. Don’t try to be happy. Instead, keep around you people who communicate gratitude to you. Also, people you communicate gratitude to.

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