Stop Trying To Be Happy!

I was talking with my friend Stephen several weeks ago about life in general while we were grilling out.  In our discussion the topic of happiness came up and both of us came to the same conclusion: people that set their goals around “being happy” are in for a frustrating life.  I have spent more time kicking the idea around in my head and decided to put some thoughts down on paper.

I do not have a plan for this post so I am going to free wheel it and see where we end up. 

The basic premise of our talk was that happiness is such a relative concept that striving to be happy as a life goal is futile.  So that we are all working with the same understanding of happy, The Oxford Dictionary defines it as: feeling or showing joy or contentment.  

Here is the problem I see with setting a goal to be happy.  Happiness is an emotion and like all emotions they fluctuate according to many different variables.  When I stated my belief that happiness as a goal is a futile endeavor , I liken it to shooting at a moving target.  Each time you get going in the right direction the destination changes, thus leaving you driving yourself mad! This causes people to use up lots of energy and time and most often results in aggravation.
The next issue I have with setting happiness as a goal is it is nearly impossible to define.  Seriously, what is happiness?  What does it mean to be happy?  It’s not just that the meaning of happiness changes from person to person, but our own understanding of happiness can change from moment to moment!  What makes a person happy now very well may make them sad in a few months! 

See, happiness is a temporary state never intended to be a long-term condition. Happiness occurs in specific moments when our brain releases serotonin in response to certain stimuli. It is impossible and impractical to live in a constant state of happiness. We experience sadness, fear, anger and happiness. Each of the 4 will jump in the front seat at certain times, serve their purpose, then return to the rear of the vehicle. Expecting happiness to always be present will always lead to frustration and disappointment!

I believe it is time to ditch trying to be “happy.”

In its place I think you should aim to be fulfilled.   Oxford Dictionary defines being fulfilled as:  being satisfied or happy because of fully developing one’s abilities or character.   See the difference?  Happiness is a byproduct of being fulfilled, not vice versa.  So the question to ask oneself should be what will fulfill my life?  What ability or character trait can I fully develop that will create in me a feeling of being satisfied or happy?  Now we are on to something!  The target just stopped moving and we have a clear, focused shot. 

I believe you can be happy, but not be fulfilled.  But if you are fulfilled you will most definitely be happy.  Now determining what will make you fulfilled is an entirely new conversation, but the process begins with deep introspection and contemplation.  I will leave that for a different post. 

Just a thought to get your day started off on the right foot!! 

If you enjoy feel free to comment and like.  Also please continue to share, share, share.  Your sharing efforts are showing great results as we have added nearly 200 followers in just the last 10 days!  A hearty THANK YOU is in order!! 

Your friend,

Big Dreamer


23 thoughts on “Stop Trying To Be Happy!

  1. I agree. You can’t aim to achieve happiness. It’s like trying to reach the horizon. You won’t get there. But I like to have a sense of having tried to do well. Happiness just happens I guess … when you’re happy. All the best. Happy trails. Kris

  2. This is an interesting topic but I disagree with you. I actually think that being happy is an excelent life goal. Because people always set themselves concrete goals like “I want to write books” but this is just an activity. It will never succeed for you to be a happy person. You also need to have tasty food, great friends, be in love, dicovere interesting books, whatever makes you happy. There are endless things which can make you happy and it will never be achieved by just one thing. No matter what makes us happy, in the end we all just want to be happy even if our happiness looks like an uninteresting life to others. Because not everyone has an ability or a purpose they want to fulfil. Some people are happy with a simple life and a job which doesn’t fulfil them in this sense but offers them a happy private life. Of course you’re right that noone can be happy 24/7 but I think though we all have times when we are sad or bored or angry, it is still possible to generally be a happy person and lead a happy life. For a few years now happyness is my basic emotion. Sometimes I am unhappy of course but happyness is still the constant to which it always comes back to. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having as a life goal to be happy because in the end it’s really all that matters.

    1. I think you misunderstood my point. My point was referring to the emotion of happiness which is why i clarified the working definition in happiness in the beginning of the post. To seek to always be in a state of emotional happiness is simply not possible. The reference you are making to a “happy life” is a life of general enjoyment and relative fulfillment. If you seek after always being emotionally happy you will be frustrated because it will be replaced atvtimes by fear, anger or sadness. From your read you are using happiness to describe a “state of being” and an emotional feeling. I was careful to define this early in my post. I think the issue here is one of semantics.

    2. In short we are saying the same thing. I use the word “fulfilled” while you used the working definition of “happiness” as a general state of contentment with one’s life or…general fulfillment. And to further my point, people get confused when they use the word “happy” as the association is usually to smiles, laughter, joy, etc. If someone expects this they will fail because you will experience sadness, anger, etc. But one can be fulfilled or to use your word “happy” in a general sense but not emotionally happy all the time. The confusion is in using happy as a blanket to cover too much. The word “happy” is simply misused and designated incorrectly. The better word is fullfilled.

  3. Great post! I also believe happiness is also a choice. We can choose to be happy about many things in the day – even if it is just for a second of the day. Happiness is ongoing – I don’t think we ever get to fixed state of eternal happiness. We have to continue to choose to see the little joys in life and recognizing that helps build the state of happiness.

  4. I agree with your post. People get caught up in ‘why aren’t I happy like so & so.” I wouldn’t last long at Disney though, I would forget to simile all the time. I think some people think if you are not smiling you’re not happy. Maybe you’re just tired or caught up in a thought.
    Good post. Thanks

    1. Or sometimes you are sad. And there is nothing wrong with that either! Life is not about always being happy as in the emotion because it’s not possible. That is why I prefer the word fulfilled when referring to judging or measuring one’s life. Thank you for the comment!!

    1. I had a few disagree with me. I think they misunderstand that we incorrectly use “happy” as reference to emotion AND a state of being. My post was intending to say eliminate usi g “happy” to refer to a state of being as it implies always bei g in a state where one is smiling, laughing, etc. Semantics

      1. I also think you achieve it best indirectly, same as self-esteem. You do, achieve, or experience something or someone that provides the happiness or self-esteem. Shortcuts don’t work very well.

  5. Reblogged this on cuppajoeandthou and commented:
    This is a great contemplation by Dream Big, Dream Often.
    As for my experience, happiness/fulfilment is a byproduct of living conciously with authenticity, owning your mistakes, accepting and adapting in each situation during each day until it is as natural as breathing. I have set many frustrated goals, but since I have been just living as me (of course it took a lot to get to that point) the things I tried and failed to obtain have become the result rather than the goal.
    I ecourage you to read this reblog and courageously look at life and maybe a new paradigm;)

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