In therapy, the biggest mistake about finding happiness is saying, “I want to be happy”. When we’re unhappy, it makes sense that we’d want to know what’s missing from our lives. Yet we end up just feeling frustrated and stuck. The psychology of this is tricky: In our attempts to find happiness, we end up feeling worse.
By saying this to yourself, you’re giving up the power to change and granting yourself permission to continue to remain stuck. It’s just a fancy way of saying, “There are forces beyond my control, and I don’t have what I need or want.” And once you tell yourself that, you’re stuck with this mindset for the rest of your life. The possibility that happiness is a by-product of feeling better never even occurs to us.
The Purpose of Life
The purpose of life is to be happy. This is a life goal which we must never lose sight of. However, no special techniques, solutions or tricks of the trade can lead to lasting happiness. What we need to focus on before anything else is the missing pieces of our lives. We must clean up our own “stinking thinking” if real happiness is to be found.
What is Happiness?
Happiness is a fundamental drive in life. It’s not a hobby that we try to fit in to our day. The problem is that we do not really know what happiness is! We confuse happiness with a life free from feelings of anxiety, anger, rage, doubt, insecurity, loneliness, sadness, difficulties and problems. Happiness is different. It is the ability to receive the pleasant without desperate/dependent grasping/clinging, along with receiving the unpleasant without condemning, blaming or complaining.
Looking for Happiness
The way we seek happiness actually blocks us from finding it. The truth is that we cannot have pleasure without displeasure. Trying to split them off from each other only digs us more deeply into our own dissatisfaction. Our mistake is in trying to wipe out all the sources of displeasure and discomfort in our lives, rather than seeing that they can be sources to help us grow and change.
We identify with the feelings of violation, rejection or injury and we long for a happiness in which no such feelings or problems could arise. As long as we continue trying to eliminate all displeasure, hoping to preserve only pleasure for a prolonged sense of well-being, no lasting happiness is possible.
Focusing on Happiness
The root cause of our unhappiness is our inability to be mindful – that is, to observe ourselves properly. We get caught up on our own perspective, unable to see the perspective of those around us. Only through the uprooting of our own self-centeredness can we find the key to happiness.
We need to let go of our self-centered narcissism – seeing the world from our needs, wants, desires, demands, impatience, and view. When spurned by a lover we too readily say “what’s wrong with me.” Once we understand that happiness has more to do with acceptance, only then does gratification become available to us.
Happiness is the confidence that our pain and disappointment can be tolerated; that our love will prove stronger than aggression. Happiness is a release from the attachment to pleasant feelings and faith in the capacity of awareness to guide us through the inevitable insults to our own self-centered narcissism (“I want it my way!).
The realization that we do not have to be so self-obsessed – trying to figure it all out – is the key. Knowing that happiness is not “out there” in things, other people, work and possessions is a different way of looking at the problem. Happiness becomes something that is inside of yourself, by loving yourself as you are, in the “now.” Knowing that happiness is within our own minds allows us to have the acceptance that we have always craved.
So remember that when you say to yourself, “I want to be happy,” you’ve already lost. Our job is to help ourselves get past statements like that keep us stuck, forever seeking the unattainable.
Are you Tired of Chasing Happiness and Never Finding It?
Work one-on-one with David for personal growth & development