Don’t Pursue Happiness

We should never pursue happiness.  That sounds weird to read, and write, but I believe it’s true.  I don’t think we should pursue being happy as our primary goal.

I’ve heard people say that they just “want to be happy”, but when questioned, they often lack a plan or any idea how to achieve the happiness they seek.

I think our efforts would be better spent focusing on doing the things that bring happiness.  “But wait!” you might be saying.  “Isn’t that the same thing as pursuing happiness?”  Not really.  Here’s why.

Being happy is a byproduct of doing something else.  The feeling of being happy follows an action.  You don’t just “be happy”.  Something comes first; some initial action sparks happiness.  The action is the cause, happiness is the effect.

Here’s what this looks like in the real world.  If you want to be happy, determine the things that make you happy, and do those things.  (The premise I’m working from is that the things that make you happy are good, moral, legal, and will build you up and those around you.)  Perhaps being in good physical condition or serving others makes you happy.  Maybe something in your career or spending time with family friends or a community you belong to.  It might even be using a gift or talent you possess.  Most likely there are multiple things you can do that make you happy.  Whatever those things are, do them.  Don’t avoid them or diminish their importance.

Instead of continuing pursue happiness alone, begin stoking the fire of happiness by taking the actions that cause happiness to follow.  When you do, you’ll find that happiness is waiting on the other side.

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