Happiness is Not the Proper Goal for Life

‘What is your goal in life?’ Ask this question to one of your friends. Ask it to a family member. Even ask it to a stranger on the street. Chances are many of them will say ‘I just want to be happy’. Some will give a detailed answer explaining some sort of goal they wish to achieve, whether it’s having a successful relationship with their spouse or owning a Lamborghini car, or becoming a sports athlete. However the most common answer you will hear is likely ‘I just want to be happy’.

“I just want to be happy”

Fantastic. Great. We all wish to be happy, especially in every moment of life! That’s great. However what is happiness? Is it smiling? No. Is it feeling content with what we have just accomplished? Maybe. Or is it just being present in this very moment and at bliss with oneself? Surely it cannot be that easy?! (I’ll talk about this another time).

Regardless, when we say we just want to be happy, do we have a plan in place to achieve this “happiness” – is there anything we can do to achieve this? Of course there is. We can focus on what we love to do. That will bring instant happiness to that very moment of our lives. There’s not much better than that.

However what about when that ends? What next? Unfortunately when the majority of us say ‘I just want to be happy’ we simply have short term pleasures in mind to help us achieve this “happiness”.

Short-term pleasures do not provide long-term happiness

If I told you that you will wake up tomorrow with the guarantee that you will receive a work promotion, or go to a fantastic restaurant for dinner with your special person, or inherit thousands of pounds from a family member, or have the best sex of your life with your partner, you would feel joy and happiness would you not?

How long would it last? A couple of minutes? A couple of hours? A couple of days? The point is that it would fade and you would be chasing these short-term pleasures all over again. After that promotion you would go back to your preceding habits and mind-set. After inheriting that money, you may spend it or store it in your saving accounts and then go back to your business, seeking more. After that amazing sexual experience you would crave more the next day.

What’s going on here? You’re just chasing things that provide you with short-term satisfaction are you not? What we really need in our lives is purpose. Something that provides us with unlimited fuel to conquer and push in the long term. With purpose in our lives we don’t think about where we can get that next buzz. We have the buzz already. We have purpose in our lives.

This begs the question. How do I find purpose in my life? How do I find that one thing that keeps me on my toes, that keeps me invested in life and provides me with an enriching experience of life knowing that what I do matters?

Purpose or passion?

We all have a passion or passions that we enjoy. And when we perform these passions we find happiness. However when we use our passion/s to help other people and to provide a service for others, well that is when we are creating long-term joy and fulfilment. As Jay Shetty wonderfully said in a recent podcast with Jim Kwik – ‘purpose is passion in service’.

The proper goal for life is finding purpose, not happiness. Happiness comes with you living your purpose. And purpose comes more through learning from your sufferings than it does from chasing short-term pleasures.

There is nothing wrong with chasing short-term pleasures, we all do it and it brings immediate gratification to our lives which is very important. In fact short-term pleasures are crucial for life – nothing lasts forever (including life) so we must keep doing things for ourselves to help brighten up our day. Even if it is only brief. But this is not where we will find long-term sustainable happiness.

Long-term sustainable happiness comes from serving others, through living your purpose. But combine this with short-term pleasures and you will have the antidote to true happiness, both in the long-term and the short-term. I would also like to add, before I end, that doing things for others will give you much more happiness than doing things for yourself. Make it a daily habit to do something for at least one other person. You will feel unbelievable!

Thank you very much for reading this. I hope this is the start of something special.

With gratitude, Tony.


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