Beware The Happiness Trap (And how to get happier)

Happiness is one of the highest states that we as humans can achieve, but it’s an open-ended and “everyone’s different” kind of situation which you need to determine which is definely you.

Let’s cover these a little.

Happiness is not an achievement

It is sometimes a fallacy that we NEED to seek happiness and that happiness is an achievement.

Happiness cannot be achieved.

Or better worded as happiness that is achieved is usually short-termed, because these kinds of happiness are based on ticking something off a check list. These kinds are moreso dopaminergic responses to getting things done (short bursts of productivity).

True and sustained happiness, on the contrary, is usually a state of being that is typically achieved by

  1. giving back
  2. doing / being engaged meaningfully such as work, craft, art etc

These two can sometimes be combined into one (that’s the sweet spot).

When you know something makes you happy is what you’re happy to do even when you have to do it for free (without being paid) because the practice of doing it is rewarding enough.

Find YOUR kind of happiness

Everyone’s measure, state, experience and expression of happiness isn’t the same.

  • Some need more to be happier / happy. Some need less.
  • Some express their happiness in one way, some express in another. Some loud, some soft. Some wide, some narrow. Some colorful, some not.
  • Some are happy in a particular physical, emotional, productivity, project season etc.
  • Some just need a good book. Or a quiet place. Or their bathtub.
  • Some need a boat.
  • Some people it’s a state of being or giving back or in their zone.
  • Etc

It is so varied because there is just so many different permutations.

And it’s okay, it’s meant to be that way because we’re all so different.

You’d know when you see it and you know “good for them” and you can celebrate and be happy for them but it’s not the way you’d do it.

Your job is to find out your way of happiness.

Happiness is sometimes a state of doing-being (process)

I mentioned it earlier above that for some people it’s a state of being or giving back or in their zone, and I want to dive a little deeper.

This is being in

  • their flow
  • their zone
  • their being of creating value and/or meaning

It’s a feeling of a sense of knowing that you’re meant to be doing that, at that moment, at that time

For some, it could be

  • cooking for x person or group
  • running in that lap
  • walking / hiking in that location
  • writing that article or book
  • teaching that particular student(s) or subject(s)
  • fixing that particular problem
  • etc

Ie it’s often a process of doing and being that combines into a sense of being.

This is the thing that miserable millionaires and billionaires lack, where the goal of the first million, when achieve, then becomes the next million. It becomes flat and meaningless. I’ve known rich but miserable people, and boy, are they sad.

Because it’s the peak of failure, when one reaches the peak and goal that they set, and when they achieve it, all they feel is…

Is this all there is to that goal?

Herein there are a few reasons why this happens:

  • Firstly, we are communal and value driven. This is deep rooted in our instincts and psyche (except for some sociopaths) – we get immense satisfaction from doing things that build value to people that we care about. Take this away and things become meaningless.
  • Secondly, there’s only so much money we need. Sure, making and having millions in our bank account is a wonderful thought, but there are only so much we can spend on food, clothing, cars, sex, etc
  • Thirdly, things can get scary after achieving, because we have to deal with the boredom and fear that “that’s all we can look forward to, and now that’s done, there is nothing else to look forward to)
  • Fourthly, we are meant to be serving and doing. Not everyone is meant to do “nothing” (as in, nothing in value).

So your job here is to find what makes you tick, what makes you happy, and what you’d do even if you have to do it for free (or pay someone to let you do it for free haha).

Basic ways to increase happiness and contentment

Remove stuff that makes you negative or less happy

  • Walking away from working in a place where the culture and/or leadership is negative and toxic
  • Walking away from negative or toxic people…even if they’re family
  • Stop trying to make everyone happy
  • Stop doing or tolerating something that goes against your moral principles
  • Etc

Keep doing stuff that makes you positive, happy and/or maintain your level of happiness

  • Working in a place that makes you happy
  • Being with people that makes you calm and at peace
  • Reading something that makes you happy
  • Earning something out of your own hard work
  • Cleaning your space / maintaining a clean space
  • Cooking
  • etc

Sometimes and oftentimes, it’s the pursuit of something meaningful that makes us happy. I know right – we’re weird that way sometimes.

….and in some people…sometimes, genetically, they are more predisposed to feeling the blues, being sad, and getting depressed. If that’s you, seek help. Therapy and care and support will help.