In a recent survey, people were asked that if they could magically be made happy every single day, for no reason at all – would they go for it?
Surprisingly, many said no.
Why would that be? Isn’t happiness the ultimate goal?
It turns out, people need to feel as though they’ve earned their happiness.
Earning the right to be happy carries meaning.
One version of happiness is seen as selfish, brought about by “taking.” If, for example, I take a vacation, I may feel happier (for a while anyway).
The other version is a process of giving, where we acquire a sense of purpose and well-being through helping others. Then, not only are we happier, but those we help also become happier.
And happiness may not always be the final result. We may simply feel better about ourselves because we’ve accomplished something. That feeling is as valid, or in some cases, more important, than simply being happy.
If, for example, you spend time caring for a sick friend or relative, you may not feel happy about it, but you will feel as though you’re doing something worthwhile.
Today – what we really seek is not happiness, but earned happiness. We want to contribute. We want to do things that matter.
The pursuit of happiness – just for the sake of being happy, void of meaning – can be exhausting, unfulfilling and even make us unhappy.
We all ask ourselves, at one time or another, why we are on this planet.
It was a question that haunted famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. The great Tolstoy received awards, critical acclaim and fame – but in the end, it all meant nothing to him. He asked “So what?” Following a deep depression, he decided to abandon his life of excess and help the poor. Finally, he believed he found true meaning.
We need not be financially wealthy, famous or influential to lead a life of earned happiness. In fact, the argument can be made that the materialistic world works against leading a purposeful life.
But what we do need to do is contribute, help others and find ways to make a difference, no matter how small.