The real reason most people are unhappy in their lives
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I have always been fascinated by psychology. For the past decade I have taken classes on the subject, had thousands of conversations with people (literally) about their relationships and what makes them tick, read as many books as I could find, and even wrote a book on finding love within yourself.
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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