What is happiness?
That is a question we all strive to answer. Many say the definition of happiness is different for each person.
I disagree. Happiness is pretty simple and has been for years. The same principles apply for every single being on this planet. It is biologically engrained in us. It is why we continue to strive for more and continue to push the limits.
It is why the Wright Brothers created the airplane, why Steve Jobs invented the iPhone, why Tommy Caldwell free climbed the Dawn Wall.
Happiness is the pursuit of a worthwhile goal.
It’s that simple.
When you have a worthwhile goal, you have a reason to get up out of bed every morning and start the day. Your life has meaning and a purpose.
You smile, laugh, and are more passionate about life. And you’re also more challenged, exhausted, and stressed. It is not all cherries and roses, but in the end you can look back and be proud, content and at peace with yourself.
Something magical happens when you have a sense of direction and purpose. I don’t know how to describe it… but I like to call this your identity.
Your identity is what you are meant to do on this planet.
Religious people call it “God’s plan,” while others call it a mixture of nature vs nurture. Many times it is what you spend extra time in working on, even though it is not needed.
So why are so many people unhappy?
Many people mix up happiness with pleasure
It’s a common misconception, and it even draws me in.
It’s everywhere we look.
We wake up to an alarm from our smartphone.
On that smartphone are 23 missed emails, 15 Facebook notification, 8 Instagram notifications, 5 tweets, 12 missed snapshots, a couple text messages, etc.
And these emails and social media notifications don’t stop. They continue throughout the entire day, showing you how much fun everyone is having.
It doesn’t end there. As you get to work, you click on a YouTube video your friend sent you, only to see an ad showing this fancy sport car that you were reading about on a blog yesterday.
You don’t even realize it, but that company knew you read a blog on automotive cars and make just enough money to afford it…and targeted that ad towards you. They wanted you to believe that getting that car would solve all your problems.
I mean, how couldn’t we?
So what can you do?
Right now, you’re probably thinking, “Gee, thanks, Todd. I already know that money and fancy things aren’t the answer to happiness. But why am I still struggling?”
Or, “I DO have big goals I’m shooting for. What am I doing wrong, and why do I still have this void in my life?”
Once again, it’s pretty simple.
You are missing a key element of the puzzle. You are pursuing the wrong thing.
Chances are, you are pursuing something that has been marketed toward you for years. It is what “society” has intended for you. It is what people like me advertise to you to try and win over your business.
Take this and multiply it by thousands of businesses and organizations trying to win your attention and BAM—we decide your career.
So how do you escape this ongoing conditioning of society?
Now, I am not saying get on a plane to Cancun with 3 of your closest friends, stay at a resort, and drink pina coladas all day.
I’m saying, take a month, 2 months, heck even 3 months off and go to South America, and immerse yourself in a place that finally gives you a chance to free yourself from your conditioned thinking. Get out of the constant marketing cycle.
Talk to strangers, foreigners, and get their perspective on life. You will learn things you have never thought about. Lightbulbs will start going off in your head.
You will develop this inescapable confidence to take on the world and you will start to figure out what that worthwhile goal is.
- Yeah, but… what about debt?
- Yeah, but… what about my job?
- Yeah, but… what about my boyfriend (or dog or car or whatever)?
Stop! Are you hearing yourself right now?
I can promise you that in thirty years, you won’t regret the time you took off to travel. You won’t say, “Man, I’m so mad I traveled. I am so behind on my career now, I am so in debt, I still really miss that girlfriend / boyfriend I left…I wish I would’ve stayed.”
In fact, due to your travels, you are going to have a better career, better relationships, less debt, etc.
Still not convinced. Make sure you check Jeff Goins article, Three Reasons to Travel While You’re Young.
Stop being scared and take charge
Stop with the excuses. Stop hiding from your depression by watching TV shows and movies, eating junk food, going out to the bars every night, having these dreams of one day owning a fancy car, and pursuing this pleasure in your life that you think will bring happiness.
Happiness is the pursuit of a worthwhile goal. Take SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely) steps today to figure out that worthwhile goal. It won’t come overnight and it won’t be easy but….
Your happiness depends on it.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree that many people mix up happiness with pleasure? Please let me know in the comments below.
Latest posts by Todd VanDuzer (see all)
- Deep In Panamanian Jungle 130 Brave Goal-Setters Meet - March 1, 2016
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- 10 Areas In Life You Need To Focus On - January 6, 2016
- Stop Focusing On Your Own Goals If You Want To Succeed - December 30, 2015
- Your Plans Are Holding You Back - December 25, 2015