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Is The Pursuit of Happiness a Dead End Road?
Is the pursuit of happiness a dead end road? I'll give you the answer now so you don't have to read the rest of this hub. The answer is NO- if you don't pursue it. Well, now you have to read more to understand what I'm talking about.
No sunshine and puppy dog smiles sold here, but it's fair to say the pursuit of happiness is quickly becoming America's new favorite past time. I just read an article stating, 'A decade ago there were 50 books about happiness and now there are 4,000.' Yeah, I know that statistic is alarming, but let me point out the bigger picture; we need books to tell us how to be happy?
We never found the definitive fountain of youth. Instead we are on the hot pursuit of happiness. However, the definition of happiness has not been redefined since the old stand-by's: money, sex, power, health, and wealth. The good news about new happiness research is we're finding out those typical desires are not what makes someone happy. Research confirms we don't know what happiness is nor how to obtain it.
Lottery winners have been studied and it was discovered they are no happier, months down the road, than people who don't win. Research indicates older people are happier than younger folks- not what we expected is it? People with kids are not happier, yet many will continue the quest for starting a family.
Workplace happiness is a huge area of study and interest to management and Human Resources departments. I worked in Human Resources for a few years and it was the unhappiest place I ever worked. Ever try to make 400+ employees happy? Ever try making the employees happy, meeting and exceeding bottom line numbers, and making corporate folks happy too? Two things we now know about happy workers: 1. They came to work happy, meaning happiness doesn't begin at work. Happy people make happy workers, not the other way around 2. Too many happy people at work create issues of excess socializing and less productive work.
The issue is we've lost the point of what happiness is. Ironically, Americans have the most (material possessions) yet have the highest incidence of depression. We're in an economic crisis and only a small percentage have figured out money doesn't equal happiness. People foreclosed on are still mourning their houses and devising plans to spend more than they have. Survivors of The Great Depression claimed their family and community were closer and spent more time together. They remember happy times instead of all the "Depression".
It used to be the American Dream was attainable and now we've learned that lesson is an illusion. It really only applies to immigrants, possibly because they still believe in the dream. Only the rich can afford to be beautiful, so happiness just seems to be the obvious choice.
We post pics on fb and photo albums that make us all "look" happy, and again I think this is part because of the new popularity in the pursuit of happiness. "Look at me I'm happier than you!" In the end we aren't being authentic to ourselves. We haven't jumped off the 'keep up with the Jones' wagon. Getting back to the happy pics on fb, I've seen these people out there taking pictures of their kids and scenery and never getting dirty. Essentially, they are behind the scenes/camera and not engaging in the activities with their family and kids. It's also been noted, doing makes people happier than having. For the people taking pics while your children are doing something, you're really missing out on something with them.
My personal opinion is people who chase around happiness just look silly. It's similar to the people who chase the fountain of youth through Botox, lifts, and tucks- they just look silly and unrecognizable after a while! Your state of mind is the only thing you own, but that won't keep others from cashing in on it or telling you what will make you happy.
I don't believe people are qualified to search for happiness because often it's not what we think it is. We get a happy buzz from purchasing something new, and we get confused that it made us happy so we keep trying to get the same feeling and yet that feeling was not authentic happiness to begin with.
A simple discussion with your doctor can make you a happier person. My doctor tried giving me a prescription for an anti-depressant after I had my baby daughter. I declined and started taking a natural sleep aid, Melatonin. Turns out all I needed was sleep to be happier. People become disturbed if they are not happy all the time and doctors, along with 4,000 'How To Be Happy' books, are quick to assist them.
What I find interesting is I don't know anyone who hasn't attributed their happiness to tragic events in their life. Ironic isn't it? People don't want bad things to happen to them, but when/if it does, they say they are happier or a better person for it. A Psychology Today article states, "We need more than pleasure to live the best possible life. Our contemporary quest for happiness has become a hunt for a life protected from bad feelings, free from pain and confusion. People who have suffered the most, who have been forced to contend with shocks they never anticipated and to rethink the meaning of their lives, may have the most to tell us about that profound and intensely fulfilling journey to what philosopher's call the 'good life'."
Happiness isn't a mission, a destination, or the latest gadget. It is an outlook- finding things in your life to be thankful for. Don't try to be happy, just be.
The Cure For Happiness
- Don't define happiness.
- Don't pursue it, just recognize it.
- Resiliency is far more useful.
- Do not take a dose of happiness in pill form.
"If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time. " ~Edith Wharton
"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have." ~Frederick Keonig
"If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years." ~Bertrand Russell
"The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment." ~Doug Larson
"If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator. He will not be striving for it as a goal in itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours of the day." ~W. Beran Wolfe
"Happiness is the resultant of the relative strengths of positive and negative feelings rather than an absolute amount of one or the other." ~Norman Bradburn
"Perfect Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness" ~Unknown
Sources & Suggested Reading
- The Psychology of Money (and Debt)
"Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances." Benjamin Franklin The realization that Americans have accumulated way too much stuff came no sooner than the...
- Skeptic The Magazine Current Issue: volume 16 number 1
"The Ignorance of Bliss"
- The Hidden Side of Happiness | Psychology Today
Pleasure only gets you so far. A rich, rewarding life often requires a messy battle with adversity. By Kathleen McGowan | Psychology Today