Stop trying to be happy

Happiness isn't a bento box, where it's all ready-made and good to go!

You want to be happy, of course, and that's legit.

And though you don't expect to be happy all the time, it's definitely on your radar.

It's difficult though.

Have you noticed how elusive happiness is? Like a deer, if you go at it with hot pursuit, it'll shy away.

I'm not going to give you mental tricks to be happier because today I want to ask you: what if happiness isn't something to strive for?

The happiness dilemma

You see, we call it happiness, but I think what we mean is "long-term fulfillment" and depending on where we look and how, we could be missing it.

We've been sold well-being from companies making money from our insatiable desire for happiness. Researchers, the government and businesses have told us that just so long as some key elements are there, we get to be happy.

The pursuit of happiness is an industry with millions of searching people. Our advanced technology is working to determine how to measure happiness and looking at things like productivity.

Deeper yet, some have looked toward finding meaning in work and life.

This is well and good, but it's not the whole picture.

To understand the whole picture, we look to ancient knowledge and wisdom. The yogic concept of happiness is simply this: the circumstances in which you are – is the place for spiritualization.

Stop trying to be happy.

Act how you can with what you have, and let go of the rest.

Once there was an old man who was unfortunate and he spread the feeling of unhappiness to others. One day, he was seen smiling, not complaining and his face was freshened up. He was asked: "What happened to you?"

"Nothing special, he said. Eighty years I’ve been chasing happiness, and it was useless. I decided to live without happiness and just enjoy life. That is why I am happy now."

The wise old man finally stopped trying for happiness and instead he found fulfillment in the reality of his life, from moment to moment.

Happiness is here, just waiting for us to recognize it.

Do you ever feel like you’re failing at happiness?

What about when counting your blessings and seeing the glass half full feels forced? When the tricks from the happiness gurus aren’t working?

According to Harvard Business Review, when happiness becomes a duty, it can make us feel even worse if we fail to accomplish it.

In a study, subjects were asked to watch a video that would usually make them happy — a figure skater winning a medal. 

But before watching it, half the group was asked to read a statement aloud about the importance of happiness in life. The other half didn't read that statement.

With surprise, they found that those who had read the statement were actually less happy after watching the video. When happiness is preached a sort of moral obligation, if we don't accomplish it, we can end up feeling worse.

"Unhappiness is not only unhappiness, it is worse yet, a failure to be happy." French philosopher Bruckner.

Being in constant striving for happiness has us looking in the more superficial places and true happiness is obscured.

True, deep and lasting fulfillment comes from somewhere different.

We pursue happiness as if it's an accomplishment or status to be gained or lost. But what we really want is to be flourishing.

This comes from learning to be here, now with a mindset that you'll do what you can with what you have and let go of attachment to the outcome. 


Want to try an experiment?

Like the old wise man, give up the hot pursuit of happiness today. Just for today, stop trying to be happy and be present with what you do and how you do it.

See what happens.

Please comment below, we’d love to hear all about it.