what if you’re doing happiness all wrong? Find out, and learn 5 tips for enjoying more…

what if you’re doing happiness all wrong? Find out, and learn 5 tips for enjoying more…

via Psychology Today by Dan Bates

We all want to be happy, but so few of us find it. The nature of happiness is fleeting, dancing in the periphery. The moment you think you have a firm grasp on it, happiness slips out of your hands.

This could cause a person to become overwhelmed by frustration and give up. Is this happiness’ fault or the pursuer’s? Happiness is obtainable; you might just have to change up your approach.

Fortunately, through the deliverances of modern social science, the pursuit just got a little easier. Below are five ways of pursuing happiness that are supported by science:

1. Pursuing Happiness Doesn’t Lead to Happiness

Wait! What? I thought this list was about happiness? Why are you telling me not to pursue happiness?

The nature of happiness is fundamentally paradoxical. In truth, the pursuit of happiness does not ultimately lead to happiness. If obtained, it will be, at best, temporary. Rather, happiness comes about when an object of greater value is pursued with pure devotion.

Happiness always follows a meaningful pursuit, which could entail engaging with hardship and adversity. Many have discovered that persevering through challenges enriches their lives beyond what they could have imagined without the struggle. However, once you make happiness your main pursuit, it will always remain elusive.

Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz and a number of other Nazi concentration camps, knew a thing or two about happiness. He once said:

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run—in the long run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.” —Viktor E. Frankl

Psychologist Barry Schwartz agrees with this sentiment and puts a rather blunt spin on the notion by saying:

“Happiness as a goal is a recipe for disaster.” —Barry Schwartz

2. Pleasure Isn’t Happiness

So, if pursuing happiness doesn’t ultimately lead to happiness, then what should a person pursue? What about pleasure? It seems like a good candidate for a happiness-inducing pursuit, right? It has been a long-held belief that maximal pleasure and minimal discomfort produces the greatest happiness. From the ancient Greeks to Sigmund Freud, this idea has been with us. And it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Pleasure is fleeting. It does not produce long-lasting, life-enriching satisfaction. Certainly, pleasure feels good, but it is momentary at best in the happiness it brings. What does bring true joy, as I said above, is the pursuit of meaning, purpose, and significance. Work through the questions below to explore what your purpose and calling are.

  • If you’re not sure what your purpose is, think of what burdens you. What do you see as a problem in the world that needs fixing? Climate changeBullying? Poverty? Human trafficking?
  • Consider that your burden may be your calling. If you are open to that idea, what strengths and skills do you possess, or could you possess, that could help solve the problem?
  • What’s stopping you from throwing your hat into the ring and getting involved?
  • Sure, you, as an individual, may not be able to do much, but if you joined an organization? There is power in collective action. You, lending your energy and skills to a group, can accomplish much!

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“There is pleasure, and there is bliss. Forgo the first to possess the second.” —Gautama Buddha
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