We all pursue happiness.
But sadly, happiness is more about the pursuit than the actual feeling. You’re only happy for a brief period, an hour and it’s gone. Then you spend the rest of your life chasing a similar feeling.
Happiness is very much unreal, a construction of our imagination rather than a state we can achieve. Or the collective hivemind’s definition of happiness has been mutilated beyond recognition.
Most of us say there is no “happily ever after”…
… yet we all act like there is.
And we build our lives upon the chase of an illusion. We want that one happy pill, the magic bullet that transforms our lives into a state of bliss.
Think about fitness for a second.
- Some direct all their attention toward working out and eating a good diet.
- They invest their free time into browsing bodybuilding forums for new lifting techniques and studies.
- They worry if they lose out on gains by performing sets of ten repetitions instead of five.
- They get torn between normal whey and whey isolate — the isolate has 2 grams fewer carbs per serving….
Why do they do that?
Because they have a goal. For example, to carry around a six-pack. And they believe it will bring happiness on a plate.
And they are obsessed with finding that one magic bullet, the one thing that will finally make their dream come true.
In reality, everything is so simple. Most “fitness addicts” would make just as much progress by just lifting weights however they like, and not eating like a fatass. By focusing on the big picture.
That’s a hard truth for people to accept.
Because that means they can actually succeed… if they put in the work.
That puts immense pressure on them. There’s only one easily defeated obstacle. But most don’t want to put in the work.
Instead of accepting the simple reality, they trick themselves into believing that everything is complicated.
In their minds, there’s another (false) reason they aren’t where they want to be:
The lack of a puzzle piece.
So instead of putting to work the knowledge they already possess… they turn to gurus who promise things such as:
- The #1 Secret To Growing Your Biceps!
- The Lazy Man’s Guide To Riches
- How To Be “ The 12 Month Millionaire”
- Insider Secrets Of Real Estate investing
I worked for years as a copywriter, helping gurus sell their products. But truth to be told, it’s so simple a child could do it.
Go to Youtube or any other place where you can find good clickbait headlines. Read one of them.
There’s a 100% chance, if you picked a good headline, that the headline made you feel like you were about to consume something you needed. A missing puzzle piece that could finally make you whole.
That’s because the writer knows you have a built-in desire to uncover a magic bullet.
As you know from living in the information age, you don’t need the majority of what’s behind the click-bait headlines. But you get tricked by your flawed thinking.
Let me tell you something…
YOU WILL NOT FIND A MAGIC BULLET
There is no instant solution to being happy. Hell, I don’t even know if you can be happy for more than a day until you’ll slump down again.
We grew up in a society so addicted to instant gratification we were tricked to believe in happy pills.
Not going to happen, and let me ask you:
Why strive to be happy?
Why strive for something so transient we don’t notice it until it’s gone? What is happiness? I don’t think being happy makes you happy, and I believe we need to shift our ambitions toward something more attainable and real:
You want to live with purpose. You want to wake up every day and feel like you’re about to make a difference, at least to your own life.
You want your internal reality to align with your external reality.
You want to act on what you believe, and you want to believe in your actions.
If you hold a strong desire to become an actor, you will be unhappy until you act on it. That certainly doesn’t mean you should always “go for your dreams”…
But you either have to change the internal or external to achieve congruency.
Here is another hypothesis…
What can be considered happiness is just the absence of negative emotions.
Notice how I wrote emotions, not events or people in your life. That’s because there are two ways to get rid of negative emotions and achieve a state of happiness:
(1) The obvious: Get rid of the external trigger of that negative emotion. For example by ending a dysfunctional relationship or severing connection with a bad person.
(2) Change the way you interpret that trigger of negative emotion. Some things just are, but we choose to view them in a negative light. When you were a kid, did you view gym class as an intimidating waste of time, or an opportunity to have fun and move your body?
Because in reality, our emotional lives aren’t controlled by the world around us, but the way we interpret and judge it.
Trigger VS. Cause
Doctor Marshall B. Rosenberg has done amazing work on this in the area of anger management. In The Surprising Purpose of Anger, he explains the relationship between triggers and causes of anger.
“The first step in handling our anger using NVC [Non-Violent Communications] is to be conscious that the stimulus, or trigger, of our anger is not the cause of our anger.
That is to say that it isn’t simply what people do that makes us angry, but it’s something within us that responds to what they do that is really the cause of the anger. This requires us to be able to separate the trigger from the cause.”
Let’s say someone’s going to pick you up at 6 PM from the airport.
They don’t arrive until 6:30 and you are pissed.
The trigger of your anger may have been that he is late. But the cause may have been that you felt neglected, that your ride didn’t care about you.
We can’t always change reality. We can’t get rid of every source of negativity. But we can check our interpretations of reality and reframe seemingly meaningless hardships as challenges that make us grow.
I don’t know for sure what happiness is, but I know the way most of us pursue it today bears no fruit. Instead of focusing on the world around us, why don’t we take a look at our insides?
What if everything required to be happy is already hidden within you?
Until next time,
— Alexander Contrarian