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Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You End up Being Unhappy

Ah, Happiness. It’s a feeling we have all felt (hopefully), but it’s certainly not a permanent state of mind.

Here’s the thing, we only know how to try to focus on something happy because we’ve experienced sadness. And vice versa.

It’s like your favorite food. Let’s assume you love cookie dough ice cream and whenever you eat it you’re happy. But if you constantly have a freezer stocked with that ice cream, someone gifting you with another one wouldn’t necessarily make you happier. Contrarily, if your freezer stopped running and all your ice cream melted and you’d had to go without that ice cream for weeks, you would be elated if someone showed up with a brand new carton for you.

If you were always happy and care free, then experiencing something pleasant wouldn’t necessarily make you even happier, it just wouldn’t make you any less happy. If you were always at the same level of satisfaction, that could be a drag.

Assuming others are always happy is the biggest misunderstanding of happiness.

The funny thing is, most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Blame it on all the fairy tales we were read at bedtime as children, but it seems somewhere along the line we forgot that there are not actually princesses who find a prince and live happily-ever-after while peasants and witches stew in their unhappiness nearby.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. I think you hear it a lot growing up, that you shouldn’t judge those around you because you don’t know what their life is life behind closed doors. But as we grow and mature and no longer get advice like that from our elders, we tend to forget.

Happiness, at it’s very definition, is a state of contentment. Notice the word, ‘state.’ It’s not a “lifelong, permanent experience,” it’s a state. Temporary and/or fleeting.

When we feel sad, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. This is usually enforced by our well-meaning friends who say things like, “this is a blessing in disguise,” or “this will soon be a memory; this too shall pass.” They’re right, and we usually know they’re right, but in the moment it can be difficult to see past our negativity. Do you remember your very first breakup? It felt like the world would never be okay again, didn’t it? But weeks, months and eventually years passed and so many other relationships came and went. Of course you moved on, but in that intense sad moment of time, you were unable to see that there was a future.

What we don’t see is the extended version of this curve. In keeping with the breakup example, the extended version of the curve would be your eventual life-partner or your realization that you were completely happy as a single person. But at the time, there was no future. Only darkness and loneliness (oh to be so young and melodramatic again!).

What we fail to see is how important Sadness is to Joy. Remember earlier when I said we only know what happiness is because we’ve experienced sadness? If you can really think about what that means, it’s pretty powerful. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Stop trying to be happy. Just be.

Yes, we should all want to be happy as often as possible, but it would be miserable to pretend day in and day out that you are 100% satisfied.

If you’ve experienced a time when you were able to offer your best friend amazing advice because you had experienced a similar, you would understand that yoursad situation? If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. And that would get old to the people around you.

To be happy realistically, stop aiming for consistent happiness. But do remain optimistic and true to yourself. Accept that there will be ups and downs throughout time. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positivity and negativity

Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment right now, flash back your memory to when you had or didn’t have something. I like to think about my career for this example. When I didn’t have a career I was happy with and passionate about, I was upset. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was so happy, even before I realized I would be successful!

Remember that gratitude is the key because we only appreciate a moment when we can compare it with moments of disappointments

Realistic happiness is attached with sadness.

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy, incredible, wow-inducing moments. Happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But your life will also be filled with rainy, mucky storms that don’t ever seem to pass when you’re going through them.

But whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of that beautiful ebb and flow of life. Relish in the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Know you aren’t alone in experiencing either, and don’t be afraid to admit when you are hurting.

Pretending to be happy won’t make you happy. But being unconditionally honest with yourself about how you feel and why … that’s how you learn to love yourself and your life, good times and bad.

Featured photo credit: InsideOut via

The post Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You End up Being Unhappy appeared first on Lifehack.

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