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Chasing Happiness Is What Makes You Unhappy, Doing This Can Bring You Lasting Joy

Chasing Happiness Is What Makes You Unhappy, Doing This Can Bring You Lasting Joy

If you’re feeling unmotivated and aimless in life then you’re not alone. Happiness and fulfilment is probably the number one thing everyone is striving to achieve but we often end up chasing after what we believe will make us happy, adopting the mindset that we’ll be happy when we get that new job, relationship, house or car.

The problem is, chasing after these things to make us happy is essentially what’s making us unhappy. Most of the time the perfect life we create in our head isn’t truly what can bring a sense of fulfilment to us. What actually brings more lasting joy is the feeling of flow, contentment and fulfilment that is at the core of what we really want.

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Stop Chasing After What You Think Will Make You Happy

Like a lot of people, from an early age I felt I needed to carve a career path that would equal success, riches and recognition. The problem was, I never really knew what that meant for me. When we’re younger, status is important and society and parents can look down on those that don’t quite have their career plan sorted out – you can get this sense of pressure that if you don’t make the right choice, you’re some kind of failure.

I left university feeling lost and unable to figure out what I was destined to do. I made comparisons to my peers around me who had been ‘sensible’ and planned it out from the start, who were already on their journey to success.

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I got jobs that were successful in the eyes of those around me but to me, they felt soulless. I was making the money but I wasn’t happy. I felt like a zombie getting up to go to work, sitting in front of the computer and felt like I was getting no sense of excitement or flow. Clock-watching where half an hour felt like two hours was a common part of my day until after 5 years I couldn’t take it anymore.

Meaningfulness Comes From The Heart

Sometimes it takes the contrast of feeling sad, depressed, trapped and unfulfilled to really sit up and take notice of what will bring meaningful purpose. For me, I started to think about what fills me with excitement and that was travelling. On one hand, I felt shame for just jetting off and enjoying myself when I should be knuckling down and chained to a desk I hated, but I also needed to stay true to myself.

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I headed to China to teach English as a foreign language which blended what I loved with purpose. It was a million miles from what I had been doing but it suddenly opened my eyes to my buried creative side – the side that was where all my potential to be happy was hiding.

From that experience, I have travelled around the world, lived abroad in different countries working with children and through these experiences I almost fell into writing. But the reason I think this happened was because I was pursuing a journey from the heart rather than the head. In essence, I hadn’t really a clue where I was heading to in my career but I knew it felt good to me. Now I’ve found something that’s allowed me to experience flow, inspiration, creativity and purpose.

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What Is Meaningful To You?

A 20% increase in your salary? A promotion? These will only give you short-term happiness. What really brings happiness is the sense of meaning your days bring to you – it makes you feel good about yourself and allows you to create something of value. Value doesn’t have to be big and grand – it can be found in the smallest things you do.

Motivation creates choices that align with your ‘why’ and contemplating your why is the key to truly understanding and finding the meaning we are all searching for. Don’t chase happiness, let happiness find you when you’re not caught up in what you should be doing.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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