Is happily ever after an unrealistic goal?

Is happily ever after an unrealistic goal?

As regular readers of this happiness blog will know only too well I love to share with you articles from all sorts of sources and written by all manner of authors. Although I have my views on happiness and although The Happiness Institute operates mainly from a positive psychology perspective I/we also believe there are many paths to happiness and to living a good life and so it's important to consider and ponder upon different points of view. 

Often, I'll provide a preface or introduction to articles written by others but today, the happiness article I'm pleased to share with you needs no introduction. It's interesting, different and well worthy of your consideration so read on and enjoy…

by Nancy Colier from The Huffington Post

In the online simulation game The Sims, when an avatar accomplishes all of her lifetime aspirations, she achieves "Permanent Platinum" status, otherwise known as permanent happiness. Once "Platinum," her mood bar cannot slip below a certain level, and her environment no longer impacts her happiness. She is frozen in happiness.

Interestingly, when I spoke with players of the game, without exception, all believed Permanent Platinum to be a terrible fate. Permanent happiness left them feeling stuck and disconnected from their alter ego, with nothing left to live for. Their reason for taking action, namely, to improve their mood bar, was removed. As a result, everything felt washed out and pointless. Most discontinued their permanently happy characters (aka, killed them off) and created new avatars, who could experience discomfort and once again aim to achieve happiness.

Despite this permanent-happiness-related depression, we in the real world maintain a Sims-ilar relationship with happiness. We view happiness as first and foremost a state that comes as a result of something we accomplish, attain, achieve or otherwise acquire. We add something to ourselves or our lives, and we get happiness as a prize. If we amass enough of the things we want in our life, we will be happy. On the other hand, if we fall below a certain level of things we want, we will be delivered into the dreaded… unhappiness. Consequently, we are constantly searching for that one magic thing that will deliver us into Permanent Platinum status — the right home, relationship, job, haircut, whatever our personal carrot may be. It will be the thing that guarantees our everlasting happiness. And with any luck, after its attainment, we will no longer have to show up for our lives. Like in the Sims game, once we acquire this thing called permanent happiness, we will be free to stop paying attention to the now, and at last will have permission to go to sleep in our life.

Lucky for us real people, there is no such thing as Permanent Platinum stauts. Happiness is not something that arrives in a finished package, and certainly not something that we can hold onto on a permanent basis. In real life, happiness is a temporary state. We enjoy it for a while and then we lose it, and then it shows up again and so on, eternally. Happiness comes and goes like every other emotional state. In real life, external objects only bring us happiness for a finite period of time at which point, they change or we change. Change is the only thing that is permanent. If it's Zumba right now that is bringing us happiness, we might twist our ankle or the teacher we love might move away. Poof: Happiness is gone. If the object itself does not go away, the feeling that it was offering will change. If it's Magnolia cupcakes bringing us happiness, we might step on the scale after a few weeks of blissful red velvet happiness and poof: Happiness is gone again. If it's our new boyfriend who makes every step a dance on air, then the day arrives when the pavement appears beneath our feet once again. There is nothing wrong with any of this happening, it is in fact the natural evolution of life. Happiness is not a feeling that is sustained; it is not static. Happiness, when it comes from an external object (no matter what that object is), is always coming and going.

And yet despite the fact that happiness is consistently inconsistent, permanently impermanent, we judge ourselves as failures when we cannot maintain consistent happiness…

…keep reading the full and original article HERE