What is happiness?
That is a question we all strive to answer. Many say the definition of happiness is different for each person.
I disagree. Happiness is pretty simple and has been for years. The same principles apply for every single being on this planet. It is biologically engrained in us. It is why we continue to strive for more and continue to push the limits.
It is why the Wright Brothers created the airplane, why Steve Jobs invented the iPhone, why Tommy Caldwell free climbed the Dawn Wall.
Happiness is the pursuit of a worthwhile goal.
It's that simple.
When you have a worthwhile goal, you have a reason to get up out of bed every morning and start the day. Your life has meaning and a purpose.
You smile, laugh, and are more passionate about life. And you're also more challenged, exhausted, and stressed. It is not all cherries and roses, but in the end you can look back and be proud, content and at peace with yourself.
As stated in a recent podcast featuring Tony Robins
"Living is giving. Fulfilment doesn't come from success, but from contributing to the world. You'll find happiness through giving back more than you take."
Something magical happens when you have a sense of direction and purpose. I don't know how to describe it... but I like to call this your identity.
Your identity is what you are meant to do on this planet.
Religious people call it "God's plan," while others call it a mixture of nature vs nurture. Many times it is what you spend extra time in working on, even though it is not needed.
So why are so many people unhappy?
Many people mix up happiness with pleasure.
It's a common misconception, and it even draws me in.
It's everywhere we look.
We wake up to an alarm from our smartphone.
On that smartphone are 23 missed emails, 15 Facebook notification, 8 Instagram notifications, 5 tweets, 12 missed snapshots, a couple text messages, etc.
And these emails and social media notifications don't stop. They continue throughout the entire day, showing you how much fun everyone is having.
It doesn't end there. As you get to work, you click on a YouTube video your friend sent you, only to see an ad showing this fancy sport car that you were reading about on a blog yesterday.
You don't even realize it, but that company knew you read a blog on automotive cars and make just enough money to afford it...and targeted that ad towards you. They wanted you to believe that getting that car would solve all your problems.
We are bombarded by the misconception that happiness is the result of pleasure.
And over time, through classical conditioning, we begin to associate pleasure with happiness.
I mean, how couldn't we?
So what can you do?
As stated in Simon Sinek famous Ted Talk, Start With Why:
"Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief - WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?"
Although this Ted Talk focuses on more an organization/business perspective the same principles apply to your life.
Step 1: Discover Your Why
You gravitate toward certain soul-stirring experiences for a reason.
You know, those moments when you get the chills from whatever you were doing. Due to that feeling, you are continually drawn back to participate in that activity again and again.
It would only make sense then if you analyze the "why" and the true underlying reason why you are gravitated towards those experiences, you would learn some valuable information about who you are and what your worthwhile goal may be.
Step 2: Determine What Makes You Feel Accomplished
You may think that your life is full of non-related, scattered accomplishments leading you to where you are today. I mean how could you possibly think getting the "best attendance" award in Elementary school somehow related to getting a job as an engineer at Intel?
However, if you analyze all your accomplishments that were important to you, you will realize that the dots do align.
Those accomplishments were important to you for a common reason and that reason will continue to show up in the future. If you discover that reason, you will develop a clear understanding of what you need to do to feel accomplished and will now have the second key to the puzzle to determining your worthwhile goal.
Step 3: Pursue Your Worthwhile Goal
Now with a clear understanding of why you do the things you do and what makes you feel accomplished go out and start pursuing activities, experiences, and careers that align with them!