Who would want that?
I know it is unappealing but we make sure we will not be happy all the time. Check out the google searches. Two of the most popular questions searched are “how to be happy” and “where can I find happiness”.
You know why we search for it so much? Because we are not good at finding it.
We like Pharrell Williams song Happy. We like it an want it but the song ends and happy seems to slip away
I WARN YOU, If you click and listen the song will be stuck in your head all day (not a bad thing!)
‘Cause I’m happy…clap along if you feel…happiness is the truth
It would seem obvious we are approaching happiness the wrong way, but we keep doing it. It is similar to taking the wrong road to get home and then speeding up when we realize we are going the wrong direction. Makes no sense but it happens. All The Time.
My recent web search about being happy was not encouraging. The best we have come up with so far to find happiness is:
- Expect less
- Live for today
- Enjoy your work
- Don’t compare
- Choose happiness. (Wait wasn’t that what we were trying to do in the first place?)
I think at least part of the reason we are searching still is because these answers aren’t that helpful. Here is what I know doesn’t work:
1) Hijack someone else’s happiness. You see the wealthy, the celeb, the YouTuber and think they look happy. Maybe I can just look like them, act like them and imitate them I will be happy. I don't know for sure they are happy and if they are why they are happy but I will try to soak up their happiness.
Closer to home, maybe it is a co-worker or friend at school, roommate or one of your family. They seem legit happy and because you don’t know what else to do you copy them in hopes of running into their happy.
2) Swallow the “next” illusion. It is always the next thing right? The next thing will make me happy.
When I get my dream job and get away from what I am doing now. When I get my next raise.
When I get my next place to live, my next bf/gf, my next car etc.
Sometimes we go smaller, When I get my new kicks, Apple gadget or when Disney + comes out with their next series.
Spoiler alert. For most of us we get the “next” and in a short time, find out we aren’t much happier.
3) Keep your expectations backwards. It is subtle, I guess that is why it works. There is an expectation trap that is dangerous.
It goes something like this. My spouse, kids, parents, friends, boss or whoever have the power to make me happy. So my happiness depends on them doing and being what I need them to do and be for me to be happy.
Did you see it? Putting the expectations on someone else to create your happiness is so damaging. It damages them because you are asking them to carry a weight they simply can’t manage. It damages you because you become passive waiting for things to be right before you can be right.
The expectations you have about happiness have to be low around what other people do and high around what you do, not the other way around.
4) Grind on crushing the goal of being happy. I get it, I am a goal setter. I like to accomplish, I like it too much sometimes. So it makes sense, set a goal of being happy and then go get it.
You can see where this is going. Happiness is like smoke around a camp fire. You can’t find it and hold it. If you have ever sat around a campfire you know...the smoke finds you!
One of the quickest ways to make sure you aren’t happy is to focus on you and you being happy. It is a slippery slope leaving you not only missing happiness but finding yourself more miserable than you started.
5) Stay Shallow. Keep conversations light, relationships shallow and stay numb. Use food, substances, streaming, scrolling or whatever so you don’t have to engage anything deeply. Be reactive, don’t think too much and above all stay busy. If you slow down you might have to deal with some things.
Exaggerated? Maybe a little but not much. This may be the most popular way we all make sure we won’t be happy. Without real relationships, wrestling with important questions about life and living for a purpose we stay shallow and by extension, unhappy.
So far this is a cheery little post isn’t it?
Of course there is good news. It starts with simply reversing the 5 things killing your happiness.
- Don’t hijack someone else’s happiness, celebrate them
- Enjoy what you have not what you don’t have
- Realize the quality of your life is up to you
- Understand happiness is not a goal but a side effect of a life well lived
- Go deep
Just as staying shallow is the most popular way to avoid happiness, going deep is the most important way to find…life. Life is the source of happiness or better yet joy. Joy beats happiness with a stick. Joy doesn’t depend on circumstances. Joy comes alongside when we live life well, as the Creator intended us too.
To borrow a phrase from CS Lewis as we connect with God and love others, we are “surprised by joy”. We don’t get joy as a targeted goal. When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves joy simply appears.
What you want is not happiness or joy, what you want is life. Jesus is the only one who can give that to you. When you follow Him closely and love like He loves, you find life. Full of purpose, full of meaning, deep and engaging.
This is the best way to spend your time, this is the best way to invest your emotional energy, this is the best way to build relationships, this the only way to real life.
So go deep. Give God the best of yourself, not your left overs. Connect with people and listen to their story. Find ways to encourage and build them up. Stay out of the shallow end and relentlessly insist on diving deep.
And oh yeah, happy will come along for the ride.
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