Why Your Pursuit of Happiness is Failing

The pursuit of happiness is a human right. “But where is happiness? How do I get it?”

I think most people typically think that the pursuit of happiness is about chasing the thing you desire. After the basic needs of clean water to drink, decent food to eat, and a shelter to live in are met, the pursuit of the “thing” that makes you happy begins.

For some, that “thing” is a new house. For others, it is acquiring that perfect job, getting into that school, finding that special someone, losing those 5 pounds, getting promoted, or finishing that project.

After you have that “thing” you desire, how do you feel?

Great, right?

But, for how long? Does that happiness last?

No, the happiness doesn’t last. According to the late Richard Carlson, considered to be one of the world’s foremost experts on happiness and stress reduction, your happiness doesn’t last “because the same mental process that attached your happiness to a specific outcome just repeats the process once that outcome is obtained.”

So what happens when you get what you desire and the happiness fades? You just desire the next thing that you think will make you happy. And you pursue it. Because obtaining that one desire gave you a short-lived happiness, you seek the next thing you desire. Sadly, like an addict, you seek the next fix.

Is this the “pursuit of happiness”? I believe it is. And if that’s the case, I deny myself this human right because the pursuit of happiness is not what I want. It is tiring, unsatisfying…and conditional.

First of all, the pursuit of happiness implies that you are not happy now. But you will be happy when and if… The “pursuit of happiness” is, in actuality, putting limits and conditions on your happiness. You don’t need and you don’t want conditions on your happiness. What happens if you don’t get that new house, or that special someone, or that promotion? You can’t be happy? What happens if you gained 5 pounds instead of lost 5 pounds? You can’t be happy? This just simply isn’t true. You can be happy, no matter what happens or doesn’t happen.

Secondly, “pursuing happiness” implies that you have to chase it. That you are lacking something or you must change something. But, happiness is not a result of a desirable change in the external environment. Happiness is an internal “feeling of being grateful right now for no reason other than the fact that you are alive.” (Carlson)

How do you get happiness if not by pursuing it? It’s simple, really. “Happiness requires no effort at all. In fact, it’s more of a letting go of unhappiness than it is a striving for happiness.”

So instead of the right to the “pursuit of happiness”, I want the right to be happy. Thankfully this isn’t even a right, it is the nature of every human being and it can never be taken away, no matter your age, race, or beliefs.

Stop pursuing happiness and be happy. Start with this simple yet powerful, cost-effective, go-at-your-own-pace program.

Here’s to conquering stress.

With heart,

The Stress Experts

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