The Dangers of “Chasing Happiness”

I've learned a few things this year. One of them is that happiness doesn't come from external things. Read how to stop chasing and start choosing happiness.

I’ve learned a few things this year. One of them is that happiness doesn’t come from external things.

Sure, certain things can make us feel happy for a moment…

  • a cup of coffee gives me an instant sense of joy
  • when a new client signs up I get a rush of excitement
  • buying something new is a thrill

But what I’m recognizing is that it’s all momentary…

I had an intellectual knowing of this before, but still *sort of believed* that happiness would come from SOME things… I’d be happier living in a new house that I owned, right? I’d be happier moving to Reno. I’d be happier driving a new 4Runner.

I do like all of these things. I like my house. I like my car. I like living in Reno. But before I had any of these things, I *imagined* they would *make me* happier than they actually did.

I got a home and it didn’t “make me happy.” I got the new car and it’s nice, but it didn’t add anything to my happiness. We moved to Reno and while the connections/relationships I have here I am *so eternally grateful for* I could still choose at any moment to be unhappy here.

Happiness is a choice.

A mental state. A feeling within. Something we can choose to feel at any moment (or something we can choose to hold from ourselves).

And you know what else I’ve learned? Happiness, all of the time, isn’t an authentic goal for me.

Part of living an authentic life is feeling sadness. Just like the movie Inside Out says, you need sadness to experience joy.

Living AUTHENTICALLY is allowing yourself to go through the full range of emotion. It’s allowing yourself to feel fear and do something anyway. It’s allowing yourself to be vulnerable and love another human. To go for the thing you’re passionate about, even when you’re afraid.

So go for those things. Do the things you want… but recognize that they’re not going to be the magic button that *makes you happy.* Your happiness and my happiness is a choice.

Buying a house was and is a BIG thing to me. It’s something Marco and I saved for, for a long time. It’s something Marco and I have always wanted together.

The happiness I felt the week leading up to our move, the day we moved in, the night we unpacked, and that next morning waking up in the place we’d longed for… that’s a feeling I’ll never forget.

But that’s just it… all of those feelings were just feelings. They were not a permanent state of happiness.

Do you hear what I’m saying?

When we got settled into our house and had “everything we’d ever wanted” we weren’t happier. (And part of me felt disappointed about this.) I imagined being in this house would be bliss. For the both of us.

But the truth is, though I love our home (I really do), being in it has made some of the harder things in life more real. We no longer have the buffer of looking forward to what we thought life would be like when we got a home.

Do you hear what I’m saying?

We all have those “Once I’m doing” “Once I have” “Once we…” thoughts…

But the reason we want to want to BE/DO/HAVE anything is because of how we believe it will make us feel when we get it.

SO why am I sharing this with you?

Because if you’re in the state of mind where you’re waiting for something outside of yourself to make you happy… pause. How do you image having/doing/being that very thing will make you feel? Do you know that you can feel those feelings RIGHT now?

It’s okay to want what you want. It’s okay to want to be/do/have something different than is your reality right now. It’s okay to create the life you want for yourself. To set goals. To aim for new things. It’s okay to change your circumstances.

GO AND DO IT. Take empowered action. Create! Explore! Connect!

But beware of the danger zone that is: ”THIS will be the thing that makes me happy.”

Because I will tell you, I have a job I love. I work with clients that I love. I have a home that I love. I love Marco. I love Abby (our pup). I’m very grateful for these things but they *do not make me happy.*

I am in charge of deciding whether I’m happy today. Whether I’m going to be grateful today and appreciate what God has given me, or if I’m going to focus on lack and “what else will make me happy.” I can do either at any moment.

If I am constantly looking outside of myself for happiness I am going to be let down constantly because I am the only one that can choose to feel happy.

Yesterday at Church our pastor asked us a question that hit me, hard. He said “What’s the loneliest you’ve ever felt? I bet it was when you realized that whatever or whoever you thought would make you happy, didn’t.” DANG.

I have had the experience of recognizing that my home, my marriage, my job, my circumstances… NONE of these things *make me* happy. I choose to be happy.

Instead of CHASING happiness, create it right where you are, now… feel it… make the changes you want to make… and enjoy the life you’ve built for yourself. Be grateful for it. Appreciate what you have. Create experiences that make life richer.

But don’t fall for the lie that the things outside of yourself are what will *MAKE YOU* happy. You’re in charge of that part and you can have it right now.

This message is just as much for me as it is for you. Today, I’m leaning into focusing on the *fruits* of life, as I believe them to be true for me: connection, joy, a relationship with God, and love.

If you think about it, this is an incredibly freeing message because it means that happiness is within you…

  • you don’t need that purse…
  • you don’t need to land that EXACT job, get that promotion…
  • you don’t need to wait to be in a relationship, have the baby…

*…in order to be happy.*

Rather you can DECIDE to feel happy FIRST, and then decide what you want, not expecting anything of THAT particular thing to MAKE you happy.

Rather, you just get to let it be and enjoy it. You FREE UP your joys to just be what they are.

To me, that is true freedom.

I’m remembering that happiness is mine to hold right now, and that any other emotions that visit me are welcome too. Authenticity (which is a value of mine) means embracing and inviting it all in.

Previous Day 14: Routine Challenge Next Life Changes: How to Embrace Them and Not Wish Them Away, Missing Your Old Normal

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