Challenge yourself to find happiness

Challenge yourself to find happiness

Challenge yourself to find happiness

By Dr. Neill Neill

Sep 11 2007

My ex used to plead, “All I want is for you to be happy!”

How many times have we heard that expression? I hear it most often from parents to teens. I hear it between spouses. Some grandmothers love it.

Unfortunately, it’s a useless thing to say.

It draws attention to the recipient’s unhappiness, and to the unhappiness of the person who said it. What a downer! It certainly never contributed to my happiness.

But the problem goes deeper.

Those who have had the expression dumped on them often enough start to internalize it and justify their lives with “I just want to be happy.”

It should be pointed out that people vary in their baselines for happiness. I”m a fairly happy person; the man down the street may be less so. Neither of us have much control over our baselines, although change is possible.

What I”m talking about for present purposes is the happiness that we seek day to day, the happiness we may be able do something about.

The subject of happiness, or the pursuit of happiness, has filled many books and countless magazine articles. We are flooded with it in advertising. How many times have you seen a television ad with the message that if you were to own this new car or clean your floors with this new mop, you would be ecstatically happy?

So we pursue the new car, the better cell phone or the latest self-help fad. Gradually we learn that going for each of these things may bring a blip of happiness, but it is very temporary.

However, the fact that happiness evaporates after achieving a goal is the key to understanding what happiness is.

Happiness is a by-product of something, not an end in itself. It is certainly not a lifestyle where we can just sit back and enjoy our happiness.

To understand happiness we need to look at our children. An infant struggles to be mobile, and his success in learning to crawl is accompanied by shrieks of joy. There is great joy in his first step, and then in walking across a room and in learning to ride a bicycle.

A child’s life is full of doing things today that he wanted to do yesterday, but couldn”t. Sure there are frustrations, but small children pursue their new challenges with great intensity, and great happiness comes with their achievements.

Fortunately, happiness comes to adults in much the same way. You intend to do something, you struggle to overcome the barriers and finally you fulfil your intentions. Each time you overcome a barrier you experience happiness. The more difficult the barrier you overcome, the greater is the happiness. It’s that simple.

Let’s try a definition. Happiness is the knowledge you are making progress in overcoming barriers towards the fulfilment of your intentions. The greater your intention and the more barriers you are overcoming, the happier you are.

If you never try anything because it might be painful, you forfeit your opportunity to be happy. Whether you are eighteen or eighty, to be happy you need to try new things, learn new things and push your limits.

If happiness is your goal, how much are you willing to challenge yourself in the game of life?”