I’m not sure if it’s a generational issue or merely a cultural phenomenon but I keep hearing people talk about “seeking personal happiness” or articles that describe how to live your happiest life. The fact that this conversation is taking place at an ever-increasing-pace means that many people out there are not happy and desperately wish to move away from whatever pain they are experiencing in their lives.
So, Lance, why is moving away from pain towards personal happiness a bad thing? Well, for two reasons:
1. This makes the assumption that happiness is something to be obtained, some destination. It is not. Happiness is not something that can be sought. It is not a transactional byproduct (for example, if I have , then I will be happy). Simply put, happiness is not an ends, it is a means. It is not something you achieve, it is something you ARE.
2. The first word in “personal happiness” grotesquely skews the emphasis of where happiness derives. Humans, as social animals, are not meant to live in isolation. We live, work, and interact within societies. We have a deep, innate craving to build relationships and connect with each other.
Where the hell did we go wrong? From the above points, it seems by putting too much emphasis on individuals – through glorification of individual achievements and constantly comparing/contrasting ourselves to others – we manufactured separation from each other, robbing ourselves from our single greatest source of joy. We went wrong by constantly telling our children they are special or unique because of how they were DIFFERENT from other children. Our children ARE special and unique, but not because they are different from, but because of the talents they have that we all desire. They are the talents that benefit us all. For example, a child with a great voice isn’t special because of their singing talent in isolation, but rather because others have a shared desire to hear the child sing!
Coach, pastor, and former NFL lineman, Joe Ehrmann writes in his book Inside Out Coaching, that the happiest children and most well-adjusted adults are those that:
* Have something to believe in
* Have someone to believe in them
* Have something to belong to
What do the above three items all have in common? They are all relational-based. Furthermore, they are all connected and interdependent, meaning the energy gets directed outward toward the group, rather than solely inward toward the individual. Let’s look at the qualities Ehrmann outlines a little deeper:
* Have something to believe in. Look towards something bigger than yourself. You are not the center of the world. You are but a small piece within an important role to play.
* Have someone to believe in you. My social media feed is slathered with pseudo-motivational posts from would-be athletes proclaiming “Let my haters be my motivators” or “Prove them wrong” or “Do it for those who say you can’t”. Big problem here. The problem is, people who don’t believe in you don’t give a shit whether you succeed or not. Can you really imagine a scenario where you bust your butt, achieve greatness, throw it in someone’s face who doubted you, and think they’ll feel stupid or embarrassed or apologize? No, they don’t care about you now, they won’t care about you later. INSTEAD, DO IT FOR THOSE WHO DO BELIEVE IN YOU. Even if it’s just one person. Even if it’s your mom. If your mom hates you, then do it for your dog. Don’t have a dog? Go out and get one and do it for him! Point is, you are worthy of love, and even one person loving you is more powerful than a million people hating you. Bottom line, instead of trying to prove people wrong, become driven and motivated by people who do believe in you, to prove them right.
* Have something to belong to. The ancient African proverb states “If you want to go fast, go it alone. If you want to go far, go it together.” Find your team. Seek out others who share your passions. Be connected. With isolation and seclusion comes loss of perspective. Like-minded people in your life will keep you focused on your goal and what really matters. They’ll be your strength where you have weaknesses. This is maybe the key to life. No matter what you’re wanting out of your life, find people who also want that same thing, and then go get it together!
An article published by Business Insider revealed The 5 Things People Regret Most on Their Deathbed. “Choosing to be happy” and “connecting deeper with other humans” were the predominant themes of these retroactive wishes. So, let’s review: First, happiness is not some City of Gold that can be magically discovered through some conquest. Second, you’re making yourself miserable by constantly thinking only about yourself and operating in isolation. No man is an island.
If you truly desire happiness, you can help yourself by helping others. Look beyond yourself and realize you are but part of a much, much, much greater whole. A whole that does not diminish your power, but rather serves to enhance it. Find others who you desire to support because they have the same objectives or are fulfilled by the same concepts. In turn, these people will naturally want to support you. It is your connection with others, your mutual love, and reciprocity of support that makes us all grow, all better and all happier.
About Lance: Lance is Austin Simply Fit’s Spirit Guide. Having himself been previously weak, fat, and injured, he is motivated to help you reach your optimal health. Lance currently trains as a competitive powerlifter. Click here to read more about Lance.