cognitive behavioural therapy; psychology; relationship counselling

Stop chasing happiness

Stop chasing happiness

I am amazed at how many people think happiness should be a consistent feeling. They expect to feel happy most of the time. This is not natural nor is it a realistic expectation. Happiness is often a fleeting feeling. A single moment of pure bliss where you feel well, content and safe. I have felt it when having a laugh with my son or walking in nature or playing with my dog. I can acknowledge the wonderful feeling but then it passes and another feeling settles in. It’s now quite happiness to the full extent but it a feeling of awareness and well being. Research has shown that humans are ‘wired’ to detect threat and as a result we are more likely to look for what isn’t good or right rather than to focus on what we are happy with.

We live in a world where we all feel forced to put on a smile and say ” I am fine” even if nothing is going well in our lives. This encourages the idea that happiness is ubiquitous and leads us to feeling there is something wrong with us and that we are somehow missing out. The truth is, no one escapes the normal ups and downs of life. It is impossible to feel happy all of the time. Yet, we spend so much of our lives chasing this elusive feeling. We go out, we work, we buy things, all in the hope that this will lead to happiness.

This is false thinking and it is also the reason why I have so many corporate clients coming to see me because they “feel empty despite having everything”. The number of times I have heard clients tell me how they have a great job, money, the wife (or husband) and kids, holidays, a lovely home yet they still feel empty and unhappy. This is because they have been chasing the wrong things believing they will bring happiness.

I have always said that happiness is an inside job. It’s a mindset and it also involves living life according to your values. It has less to do with status and money (although having no money isn’t going to help either but you don’t need to be super rich to be content). Don’t be taken in by the fale show of happiness that we all indulge in. It’s fake and it’s something we all do because we are too proud to admit we have problems or we don’t want to burden others. Whatever the reason, we al have difficulties to deal with and life is tough.

Adopt a more realistic expectation of happiness.  Your best chance at feel happy more often is to live a life with meaning and purpose. Do something that makes you feel you have contributed and made the world better in some way.

Mandy X