Why Chasing Happiness Chases Happiness Away

Chasing happiness chases happiness away.Have you noticed all the books, articles, and stories about increasing your happiness?

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

I am certainly not opposed to happiness.  I just think that chasing after happiness only chases happiness away.

Oh, sure, we may feel a few fleeting moments of happiness.  Just enough to lure us into the next book or article.

But it doesn’t stay.

Happiness is elusive.  At least when you chase after it.

It arrives, though, when you allow it to be the after-effect or side-effect of something else — something that will transform your life, and transform the world.

Seek a life of impact.  Go for discovering your purpose.  Find your meaning.  Happiness will show up.

Learn why in this week’s Thriveology podcast.

Built For Impact: #28 Thriveology Podcast

You are designed for impact.Do you wonder why you are here?  Are you wondering what purpose you have in the world?

You have something unique to offer to the world.  It is something only YOU can do to impact the world.

Life satisfaction comes from being a person of impact.  Change in your own life and in the life of those around you only comes from being a person of impact.

As humans, we are designed for impact.  We are designed to create an impact in our own life, the lives of those around us, and in the lives of others.

What?  You don’t think you are impacting the world?  You don’t think you have anything to offer?  Let me prove you wrong!

In this week’s Thriveology Podcast, I tell you several reasons why you may not be making an impact.  But more importantly, I give you several ways of becoming a person of impact.

Let me know what you think in the comments area below!

Rule 8: Ask “What’s The BEST That Can Happen?”

In the last rule, I proposed that the question “what’s the worst that could happen?” can be a useful “reality check” when fear grabs and limits you.  This rule goes from the opposite end.

My wife brought this question to my attention, and even if I tease her (when my son said he was nervous about a basketball game, my wife asked this question, “what’s the best that could happen?”, I suggested that my 12 year old son could be spotted by an NBA scout and called up!), she is right.

Too often, we get caught in the fear and dread.  And while asking “what’s the worst that can happen?” helps us stay in reality, it can also keep us on the down side of a situation.

What about the upside, the opportunity?  The question “what’s the best that can happen?” brings the upside into perspective.  It provides an openness to possibility.bungy-jump

For example, you are thinking of that bungee jump.  Your fear grips you, and you find yourself unable to step up to the edge and take a leap.  So, you ask, “what’s the worst that could happen?”  The outfitters have only stellar reviews, the cord is in good shape, the harness is secure.  Given the safety record, it is safe to say the worst would be a little soreness tomorrow from the swing.

Still, you find yourself rooted in place, unable to command your feet to move.  Now ask “what’s the best that could happen?”  And you find you might just prove to yourself that you can tackle your fear of heights.  You can get a huge adrenaline rush.  You get a t-shirt.  You get to jump off a bridge with no injury!  Now, we are into possibilities.

In the previous rule, we talked about speaking in public, given how high this fear ranks.  So, let’s take a look at that one.  You have already established the worst that could happen, and you know you will not die giving the talk.

Now, what is the best that could happen?  Perhaps you could make a difference for the organization?  Maybe someone will see you give the talk, be impressed by your willingness, and give you even more opportunities.  Or at a minimum, the best would be you face your fear, do the talk, and walk away more confident.

So use this question to balance the fear.  It helps us to both test our reality (risk assessment in Rule 7), and think about opportunity.

It Ain’t About Happiness!

The last couple of years have led to an avalanche of books on happiness. It seems that we are in a “happiness” epidemic. Specials on TV (20/20 had a recent show, for example), and articles in magazines all point to our capacity for happiness.

This is NOT what I mean by Thriving! Understand, I don’t think people should avoid happiness. I just don’t think that is the target to aim for. We have started using happiness as the goal, not the side-effect.

And that is why the “happiness movement” will fail. Happiness ends up being elusive, difficult to control, and open to a wide range of definitions. In fact, I think we have reduced any chance of happiness now being a useful term. Some use the idea of euphoria as a definition, others are describing joy and contentment but say happiness, and still others are really looking for that fleeting feeling.

You see, I believe that happiness is actually an external reference. In other words, something has to happen “out there” for me to be happy. Perhaps living in a bigger house, living in different geological location, having other gadgets, finding a new love, or some other change will make me happy. But I have only so much control of the “out there.” And research is showing that in lots of ways, we have a certain “set point.” When something good or bad happens, within a year to year-and-a-half, we return to our previous level of happiness (or unhappiness).

But thriving, that is an internal activity. I can choose to follow a thriving life, regardless of what is going on around me. I don’t have to have new stuff, new love, or a new house to be thriving. And since it is about forming habits of thriving, I can raise my base level of thriving over and over. I can continue to push forward and learn to thrive, IN SPITE of life events. I really can choose to thrive.

Try to choose to be happy. You may be able to do that in the short-term, but it is hard to sustain. But thriving, that is sustainable and achievable by anyone.

So, to say it clearly, Happiness DOES NOT EQUAL Thriving.

HAPPINESS                                             THRIVING
External                                                 Internal
Short-Term                                           Long-Term
Feeling                                                  Action
Set-Point                                               Base-Point