You’re Not Happy Because You Never Learned How To Be
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While this may seem like a completely different topic than I usually write about, there are certainly some overlaps. For one, relationships should be about sharing happiness with another person. Enjoying each other’s presence in life. Being fulfilled and satisfied in what you have created together.
The problem arises, though, when we try to make something out of nothing. That is to say, entering a relationship without any pre-existing happiness and expecting to suddenly find it there. For happiness to appear out of thin air where it wasn’t before. Our relationships can (and should) enhance our internal happiness, but expecting it to stem directly from no longer being single, is unrealistic.
I have always been fascinated by psychology. I took some classes on the subject as well as did some personal research on how the human mind works over the years. In more recent years I have become increasingly curious regarding the concept of happiness and how people choose to pursue it in modern society.
Many of us live our day to day lives separated from our nature. What I mean by this is, we completely toss aside the fact that we are biological organisms which are the result of billions of years of evolution. We dress in our fancy clothes and go to work in our fancy buildings and there is really nothing ‘animalistic’ about our existence. Naturally, this makes our origins easy to overlook.
Subsequently, we are fed images and information about happiness. Designer clothes, fast cars, expensive houses, and the smiling faces that come along with them. While these possessions can reflect professional success and serve as motivation and goals for many of us, they do not address the actual internal happiness we all crave.
I find my thoughts on this topic difficult to explain, but the best way I can put it is that we are attempting to transcend our own emotions and sense of ‘self.’ We are looking to satisfy this somewhat out-of-body version of ourselves with material things, more money, and more prestigious jobs. We try to paint ourselves in gold and expect our new shiny exterior to fill the gaps within our souls.
Yet…it doesn’t seem to be working.
Have you ever looked at the faces of people next to you in traffic? I do, every time I am in a car. People, in general, seem largely miserable. They hardly even look around and stay fixated on the license plate of the car in front of them. While this is dangerous because nobody seems aware of their surroundings, I believe it is a symptom of a larger problem. Humans are not drones. There is no satisfaction in living a back-and-forth life.
There is no fulfillment to be had by dressing up our outer shell in the latest fashions and expecting it to seep through our pours into our hearts and souls, creating a true happiness. It doesn’t work that way.
What we do crave, is human intimacy. Emotional connection with others. Emotional connection with ourselves. Fulfillment of our dreams and a goal to strive towards. We are hamsters on a wheel chasing a carrot that we will never catch. And even if we did, it wouldn’t make a difference because the carrot is not what we really want.
Particularly in America, we associate material possessions with happiness, and this is part of the problem. We can continue to chase after these accomplishments all we want, but until we find the fulfillment within ourselves first, the rest of it will begin to fade after awhile. We are losing touch of what makes us human and attempting to replace it with a facade that simply looks the same, but isn’t.
For any of us who have ever set out to accomplish a goal, and actually did it – what happened then? Were you suddenly happy, fulfilled, and ‘complete’? Perhaps for a time, until you set a new goal for yourself and set out on a new journey. It didn’t seem like it was enough, though you thought it would be.
This is because the goal is not the source of your happiness. The fulfillment is. The purpose you feel. The work. The play. Enjoying the moments that life is made up of – and that means something different to each one of us.
You are not going to find happiness by chasing it, because it is already within you.
Many of us look at happiness as a destination. As a result.
‘Once I accomplish this thing, I will be happy.’
‘Once I get married, I will be happy.’
‘Once I am making x amount of dollars, I will be happy.’
The problem here is, each of these things places the entire existence of your happiness on external forces, leaving it completely out of your control if something goes wrong. It is a recipe for disaster.
Why must we wait to be happy? Why do a certain set of circumstances have to be in place in order to trigger this emotion? And, that’s precisely what it is – an emotion.
Do your emotions control you, or do you control them? Think about it – have you ever been in a terrible mood but you heard something funny, smiled, and instantly felt better? What if you thought of someone you care about and your worries went away?
This is the key to happiness – it’s a choice. It’s a creation. It’s under your control.
It’s been scientifically proven that if you smile, your actual physiology changes and your mood will shift towards happiness. It may be the last thing you want to do when you are stressed or in a negative situation, but push yourself to do it – it might just save your day.
Happiness is not an illusion, it’s something you can be right now.
So, why aren’t you? Because you never learned how to be. We take classes in school on business, marketing, accounting, literature, science, math…why not happiness? Why do we not learn how to fulfill ourselves on a human level? Self-exploration, discovering what makes us tick and what our passions are – before we choose what to major in or what to pursue as a career.
My advice is this: Use your next space of alone time to search your heart and soul, and determine what you want out of life. Then, relentlessly pursue it, and never let anyone make you feel like you can’t have it. Because in the end, your happiness is really all that matters.
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Please don’t send posts. At 1am Qld Australia. Please.
Sent from my iPhone
Jennifer, I am located in Boston Massachusetts. I published this post at approximately 10:00am, and it is sent to everyone who subscribes to my email list.
I apologize, but I cannot take into account every time zone in every country when publishing posts…it will always be 1am somewhere…
Thanks for your understanding.
Reblogged this on steelgraeglamour and commented:
A wonderful blog on happiness.
Sama- Such a beautiful blog on happiness. Thank you for posting. I am from a third world country (that is what society calls it) but I call my country of origin “Training Ground”, back to my point. Have you ever wondered how as kids we were so happy just playing outside in the rain or just gazing at the sky at nights trying to count the stars. We were so happy just enjoying the simple things in life. Now, we think that stuff will make us happy but as you have said happiness comes from within.
I struggle with this so much. Even though my Spock-brain knows that nothing external can make me happy, my Cinderella-brain thinks that at soon as the right man comes along and loves me, everything in my life will suddenly snap into place. I won’t be sad anymore. The lions will lay down with the lambs. I will finally be good enough.
Thank you. I’ve been so confused with everything specifically with my work lately. Well, I really believe that you don’t have to struggle with your own happiness. It’s a creation. A decision. It’s under control. Why wait til tomorrow when you can do it now? Pursue.
Intrinsically driven vs extrinsically driven. It seems our culture veers more toward one direction or the other in different time segments. We’ve been “stuck” in an extrinsic drive mode for quite some time, and it’s time to teach people how to become balanced within themselves. Great blog, James!
Great article! I believe that happiness should come from you first. I’m a firm believer in seeking happiness within and not externally
Reblogged this on AFruitFli's Blog.
This is one of your finest blog posts. It is VERY relevant!
Really great, thought-provoking post. Saving this one to read now & again. Thanks, James!! 🙂
Pores…. Yes, happiness is more in the being and doing than the ‘done this’ or ‘done that’. Once we develop an ability to appreciate the process and can happily move forward towards our chosen goal, we then demonstrate a strength that shines beyond any momentary glimmer from reaching that goal. Thank you for your thoughts.
[…] * You’re Not Happy Because You Never Learned To Be […]
I read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier when I was but a girl of 13. It still remains one of my favorites, and one I would want an a desert island. I’ve never forgotten this line on happiness:
Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.
Since then I have read more thoughts about happiness, but this remains my favorite. And now at 61, having survived a divorce that I didn’t see coming, being a single mom (my son, the physician), my mother being diagnosed with dementia, and really aggressive cancer, I understand more clearly that my happiness is my responsibility. I discovered your well written and informative columns when I decided to re-enter the dating game after many decades. While I don’t need reminding, I feel certain that young people today would greatly benefit from this.
Happiness is and will always be an inside job. Others may enhance your happiness, but no one else has the power to make you happy. That said, I believe we can share with our loved ones little things that contribute to our happiness, if they can help give our happiness a little boost. For instance, I imprinted negatively on gray, overcast and rainy days. Twelve years later this still can bring me down. Turning on a lamp in a room helps me rise above how overcast days can make me feel. Certainly I’m capable of doing this myself, but the gesture is greatly appreciated and my spirits – my happiness – are lifted.
I will purchase your new eBook, and I hope you will consider writing something on the teenage/high school level. I have two grandsons (6 and 11) needing to be tutored in the ways of the gentleman. I thoroughly enjoy your columns!
Fort Worth, Texas
I find this article so helpful to me specially with what I have been through.
Stunning post and direct to our hearts as men. You’ve done it James; you’ve hit home!
Reblogged this on Random Acts of Writing and commented:
Yeah I know, been reblogging lately, but when you find something powerful, something worth sharing, you just have to share it! I really like his whole blog, take some time and check it out, at the very least, read this article, it is worth the time, trust me!