ExecutiveChronicles | Why Happiness Is Not a Goal But a Feeling to Work Towards Daily | We see happiness shown as this shiny prize at the end of a dark tunnel. Corporations claim that their product can “make you happy” and change your life. You may see inspirational videos claiming that you will have eternal happiness if you follow a particular process.
In all reality, what is happiness? Is it a goal to strive for? Will you wake up someday feeling happy and continue that way for the rest of your life? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Let’s look at why happiness is not a goal to strive for but an emotion that you can work towards daily. Even though you can’t be happy 24/7 for the rest of your life, there are ways to increase the happiness you do feel.
Happiness Is an Emotion
To understand why you can’t wake up one day happy and be happy for the rest of your life, you need to understand how emotions work.
Emotions are chemical reactions in our brain and body. They are responses to external or internal occurrences and happen often. In general, people feel many emotions per day. Even in people who are generally pretty calm, emotions come and go.
For example, you may feel sad when you see a dog limping. Two hours later, you may feel angry when you see your mailman leaving the mail on the ground instead of in your mailbox. An hour later, you may feel happy when your husband comes home from work, smiles, and greets you with a hug.
These responses to emotional stimuli are normal. Every emotion comes and goes with time. Some emotions may linger longer in situations like deep traumas, loss, or even an extremely happy event like a wedding. However, no emotion stays forever. Even love can wax and wane.
When someone says, “I want to be happy someday,” they are actually saying:
- “I want to have success in my life.”
- “I want to experience more positive events in my life.”
- “I do not want to deal with my depression or anxiety anymore.”
- “I want to feel content with my life.”
- “I want to feel accomplished.”
It is true that you can change your life to feel more bursts of happiness over time. However, being able to “finally be happy” is not a reality that you can achieve. To achieve what happiness means to you, you need to understand the desire underneath. Do you want a new job? Do you want a family? Do you want more money?
Understanding your emotions and the natural come and go of them is so imperative in learning how to feel happiness more often.
How to Increase Happiness in Your Life
There are plenty of ways to increase happiness in your day-to-day life. You can even work in the long-term towards feeling happy the majority of the time. However, to do this, you need to accept that you may still experience fear, sadness, grief, guilt, shame, anger, jealousy, love, envy, and more. You will not only feel happy, and if you do only feel happy, you may want to see a therapist to talk about that.
“Negative” emotions are also important in teaching us about ourselves and our lives. Feeling sad allows us to feel empathy. Feeling angry allows us to stop talking to people who are bad for us. Feeling fear allows us to run away when we need to. Feeling envy allows us to better ourselves.
Contentment is different than happiness, and it’s a good thing to strive for. Feeling calm and content with your life can go hand in hand with any emotion.
To strive for contentment, success, or small bursts of happiness throughout your day, simply follow these steps:
- Get help when you need it (from a therapist or counselor)
- Commit to openly communicating your feelings, at least with yourself
- Don’t judge your feelings of sadness, anger, or fear
- Partake in small activities that make you feel happy
- Spend time in nature
- Be physically active
- Eat in a way that feels good for your body
- Practice self-love exercises
- Learn open communication
- Remove negative energies from your life
- Have a strong support system, and be a strong support system for yourself and others
- Always aim towards your goals
- Always have goals
- Don’t give up
There are many ways to be happy, but these tips will help you feel the emotion a little more often. If you’re struggling with long-term sadness or depression (like 280 million adults in the world), you may want to speak to a counselor as soon as possible. There are ways to work through depression and feel happy feelings again. You are not broken, and there is hope.
Learn more about happiness as an emotion and making positive goals on BetterHelp here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/happiness/. You’ve got this!