Why Chasing Happiness May Be Backfiring
“I’m afraid to get happy, because whenever I’m too happy, something bad always happens.” – Charlie Brown
As mindful human beings, we’re on the constant search to create a completely happy life. At times, we get so wrapped up in our journey to happiness that we often forget that stress is a natural part of it. When things interupt our happiness quest, and we feel sad, our feelings of sadness may feel extra heavy because we’re so focused on being at an elevated state of mind.
Recent new studies led by the psychologist Iris Mauss, show that the more emphasis people place on happiness, the less happy they become. That’s a startling statistic for us happiness chasers, who may feel like we’re swimming against the current trying to create a happy life, only met with real occurrences of disappointment that life throws at us.
Dan Gilbert, Harvard Researcher, wrote “Stumbling on Happiness”, during his study, particpants were found having a wandering mind 47% of the time. That’s nearly half our lives. Wandering mind can be shown through unlocking and relocking our smart phones, which we are said to do in America, an average of 110 times a day. A wandering mind ensues stressfulness, time for comparsion of ourselves to others (Jealously) and other unhealthy behaviors.
How do we counter act a wandering mind?
A state of flow.
Flow can be defined as an active mediative state, any activity you can do that creates an in the moment experience for you. This can be meditation, if you have been able to pratice long enough to remain very present during meditation and you throughly enjoy it. Though, for most of us, we hit our stride flow state in things we have passion for like yoga, sports, speaking to crowds, writing, and more.
A state of flow can also be identified by pursuing meaning in our lives. The counter culture to happiness, meaning, may be the answer to our search for our ideal state of being.
By pursuing meaning, we can create fulfillment in our lives, that rids us of the wandering mind we so often encounter while we are in states of non-flow. Besides the fact that giving to others can make us happier than giving to ourselves, creating meaning leaves us with a higher sense of purpose in our lives as well.
Here are a few ways we can seek meaning in our everyday lives:
Volunteer your time-The most natural way to create meaning is to give your time to causes that better your community and the world. Though spending your Saturday morning shopping use to bring you what you considered happiness, you may be surprised at the state of belonging and meaning you have after giving a few hours of your weekend morning to others. As time progresses, you will feel more involved with the charitable organization of your choice and the feeling of meaning will remain with you.
Speak and write on what we know-Are you excellent at something? Do you have a way of accomplishing tasks quicker than others? Have you figured one of lives troubles out? If you have, creating meaning can be as simple as sharing what you are good at with others who may struggle in your area of expertise. Seeing your students, and those who read your pieces, excel will bring you great meaning and purpose and give you a chance to pratice your strenght in various outlets.
Mentor others-If you’re reading this on your smart phone or laptop, you’re better off than some people in your community, donating your time to mentoring those less fortunate than you will provide your community with better young adults and give your life more purpose as you completely change the life of somoene else.
Whichever meaningful activity you chose, make sure you enjoy it by testing your state of flow. Was your mind wandering? Were you present? Have you stopped smiling?
This is a whole new you!