What would you say if I told you chasing happiness makes you more unhappy?
Chasing happiness for its own sake as the highest goal in life can lead to emptiness. Because there’s always more to do, have, achieve.
This is why simply pursuing pleasure tends not to sustain positive feelings. Instead, hedonism leads to addiction and insatiability. The feeling that we’re never full and can never get enough.
Here are 4 reasons happiness should not be the most important goal in life.
1. We’re designed to connect with others
Focusing on ourselves fails to fill us the way serving others does. It can make you see other people as annoying detractors to your happiness goal, rather than allies on the road of life.
That’s why when we feel down, the best medicine is to reach out to someone else. Get out of our own heads and share someone else’s experience. Or help them in some way.
Did you know that giving is one of the surest ways to feel better? Research confirms that giving a gift to someone else is far more pleasurable than buying one for yourself.
Though it’s been proven that giving makes us happiest, charity is not what comes to mind when we think about pleasure. We may consider it an obligation or burden, but the truth is very different.
2. Pursuing happiness leads to FOMO
Happiness for its own sake leads to guilt over all the things you’re not doing. We feel we need to travel more, party more, plan more, or we’re missing out.
Focusing too much on happiness can lead to disappointment when that trip or event fails to meet expectations. When plans go awry we let them ruin our mood rather than seeing them as inevitable quirks of life.
3. Chasing happiness stops us enjoying simple pleasures
People who are less focused on personal happiness have fared better during the recent isolation. When you derive pleasure from simple things, you’re less dependent on the splashy events denied us during a pandemic.
4. We fail to appreciate what we have
Gratitude is another proven path to gladness. Thinking about what you already have has proven to increase joy.
However, as with most healthy habits, moderation is key. Weekly gratitude journals are more effective than daily or even three-times weekly recordings of thanks.
Making sure your life aligns with your values is another way to stay upbeat. When you’re doing things that make you feel like you, that authenticity translates into good feelings about yourself.
And it makes you more useful in the world as you share your gifts with others. There again is that service we provide by showing up in the world as the best version of ourselves.