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.
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.
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.
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.
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.