Taking happiness too seriously leads to chasing happiness, and chasing happiness can lead to bad habits. Bad habits lead to misery. Don’t take happiness too seriously. I take happiness seriously so you don’t have to.
Don’t Chase Happiness
I frequently mention small things that I sprinkle throughout my days to add novelty and diversion. They’re little fun things that seem wonderful at the moment, but don’t lead to long-term happiness.
Here are a few of my frequent pursuits.
- Happy hour
Those things are novel and fun, but they won’t really contribute to my long-term happiness. Except for laughter. Building a habit of more laughter can help you build long-term happiness.
When we get too caught up seeking happiness, we chase happiness. Then we indulge in fleeting diversions that thrill and pass in a flash. Then we need something else. We fill our time seeking quick fixes.
Quick Fixes Lead to Bad Habits
Quick fixes including things like booze, gambling, cigarettes, television, affairs, junk food, etc. And others.
So pretty much all the fun stuff?
I’m not judging. All sins are equal in the eyes of God (or something like that), and I am by no means wholesome.
This focus and pursuit of the passing and flighty–and the bad habits to which they often lead–sacrifice long-term happiness for immediate pleasure.
Thrill is a Donut
A donut is going to make us extremely happy. For a few minutes. But if we have that kind of thrill every day, we’ll soon be sick and miserable.
I’m speaking of course after the days of our bodies making us nauseous and forcing us to cough attempting to reject the action. I’m talking about when smokers really feel like they need a smoke. I’m going third person on this one. It feels great in the moment, but we all know what it leads to.
Think Television and Booze
Nice for few hours, then you just feel empty. Or hungover.
We use those things to chase happiness, to feel some thrill or pleasure right now, to escape the moment in instead of living in it. A more productive habit, something that will help build long-term happiness is to Escape Into the Moment, Not from It.
What I want to impart are habits that make deposits into our long-term happiness. I’m talking about those things that kinda suck to do them right now:
But that leads us to much stronger well-being.
Don’t Postpone Happiness Either
My wife and I did this for a couple years. We didn’t go anywhere or do much because we were saving–we were really waiting–for later.
Then we finally figured out we were making ourselves miserable.
So we picked a target for our saving. We called a Magic Maker to see how much a trip to Disney World would cost. We picked a date and reserved rooms. Then over the next six months, we planned and saved and created one of the best memories we will ever have.
Just play. Throw a ball in the office or a Frisbee in the yard. Pick a guitar or pluck a piano.
I guess we don’t really pluck pianos.
Tell some jokes. Make somebody laugh at work, at the coffee shop or in the grocery store.
Like this guy said (Bruce Lee, not the whale):
Do We Build Happiness or Chase Happiness?
That’s question to ask. I am I building, or am I chasing? Build a little and enjoy a little.
Build true happiness with health, relationships, and sanity. It can sometimes suck in the present, but it will build happiness for the long run.
Chase some diversions with music, coffee, and movies.
If the habit will be bad, it’s probably pleasurable now, but it might make you sick in the long run.
We just have to ask, “what long-term effect will doing this every day or week yield?”
Also ask, “What can I do now and every day that will lead to the most happiness and health?”
“Don’t take happiness too seriously.”
This is the eighth of nine posts in my How to Be Happy series.
Check out the last chapter in my How to Be Happy series: Three New Years Resolutions to Ensure a Great Year!