Benefits: Discover what happiness really is and whether or not there is a secret to happiness.
So That You Can: Decide whether or not happiness is even a virtue worth finding the secret to.
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The Secret to Happiness: Let Go of the Desire to Be Happy
Yes, it sounds crazy, but I hate the word happiness (or at least I did). And when I hear someone profess that there’s a secret to happiness, I think, “How preposterous!”
You expect me to believe that something as significant as my personal well-being and fulfillment could be trivialized down to one secret! “Come on; what kind of idiot do you take me for?” I would think to myself with all the obstinance I could muster.
And, sure, my obstinance did fuel my disregard of the phrase “Secret to Happiness,” but I knew there was more to it than that. So I started getting curious about happiness. I started to Deliberately Think about:
- Why I’d developed such an aversion to the word happiness,
- What it means to be happy, and
- If happiness is indeed a virtue worth finding the secret to.
Then I started to reflect on other points of view on the subject, and you know what, I do think happiness is a virtue. In fact, I think happiness is what I’ve been promoting through The Expectation Gaps all along. I just called it something else — full potential or fulfillment.
But how did I arrive at this conclusion? Let’s find out.
Hippie Dippie Dingbat
Before we get started, it will be helpful to know what I (used to) picture when I think of someone who claims that there’s a secret to happiness. She — yes, my hippie dippie dingbat is a she — looks a little something like this.
She has long, flowing, unstyled hair, adorned by a simple crown of daisies. Of course she’s smiling and humming. And, as she moves, she seems to float — an optical illusion caused by the white, softly flowing dress she’s wearing.
The illusion is enhanced by the backdrop of the green field that she’s bouncing through, barefoot, with a few other hippie dippie dingbats. Where are they going? They don’t know, and they don’t care. They’re just enjoying the moment, without a care in the world.
And while this carefree display of happiness is beautiful, and part of me longs to run through that field with my hippie dippie dingbat soulmates, another part of me (the louder part) has no desire to be a part of that world. My pretense leads me to think, “What a meaningless, mundane existence it must be to see and feel nothing but joy. Peace out dingbats!”
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Now That I’ve Probably Offended You . . .
You’re reading this article because some part of you is searching for the secret to happiness. That fact has not escaped me. So let me be clear. While I can completely get on board with the desire to be happy, I have a hard time getting on board with the idea of pursuing happiness.
But why? I wanted to know why I don’t feel the desire to blindly pursue happiness when it seems like so many other people do.
After Deliberately Thinking about it, I realized that being told to be happy, or to discover the secret of happiness, feels like a personal attack to me for two reasons. And, of course, these reasons are driven by my core values:
- The sentiment of “be happy” feels fake to me. It feels forced; like I’m being told to ignore all of the normal feelings that come with being human — anger, sadness, disappointment, etc.
And the sentiment feels like a personal attack because I actually like feeling those normal feelings, sometimes. What? Why? Because my core value is authenticity, and feeling all the feels is part of living an authentic life (at least in my estimation).
Although most people would characterize as a “happy” person, I’m drawn to dark things — whether it be the music I listen to, the shows I watch, or the books I read. I like to gain an understanding of what makes people tick and the struggles people have faced in their lives. What can I say; I like to Stay Curious!
- And that leads us to the second reason I don’t appreciate the word happy. Happiness doesn’t fuel growth, my second core value.
It’s not so much that I don’t want to be happy or find the secret to happiness. It’s more that I place a higher value on living a fulfilling life, one in which I’m working to realize my full potential. And it seems to me that sacrificing some level of happiness is part of that personal development.
What Is Happiness, Really
The Secret to Happiness
But, Is Happiness a Virtue?
What’s Your Next Step?
Only Have 1 Minute
Sources & Inspiration
Toxic Positivity, posted to YouTube by Julia Kristina Counselling on 5.06.20
Feeling All the Feels: Crash Course Psychology #25, posted to YouTube by CrashCourse on 8.05.14
The surprising science of happiness | Dan Gilbert, posted to YouTube by TED on 4.26.12
What Is Happiness and Why Is It Important, Courtney E. Ackerman, MSc., Positive Psychology, 4.15.20
How to Be Happier – Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD, posted to YouTube by FightMediocrity, 5.27.16
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