Do you want to stop chasing happiness? I have worked with wonderful, fascinating and introspective clients over the years with diverse stories, concerns and challenges. However, there is something that many of them have in common: the need to be happy! This should come as no surprise. We all want to be happy…right? But what is happiness anyway? Folks mistakenly believe that experiences like having children, a new job, more money, a fancy car, or getting married will magically put a permanent smile on their face. But often, these experiences don’t equate to permanent, sustained feelings of happiness because no emotion is permanent, including happiness!
Chasing after happiness can honestly be exhausting! So stop chasing happiness and choose instead to do the following:
Live a life that is consistent with your values! In my practice, I like to set up plans with clients that help them to live a life in accordance with their values. Wanting to be rich, free of depression, or having a successful career are all cool things to desire. However, it is always important to ask ourselves a deeper, more meaningful question: What is it that I value? Your values form the foundation of your life. They tell you how to spend your time and how you want to behave towards yourself (e.g., self-care), others (e.g., be a better friend) and engage in the world (e.g., be of service to others.). So think about important domains of your life: relationships, work/education, leisure, and personal growth/health. Then think about something simple that you can do today that is consistent with that value. For example, if you want to be a loving sister, your goal might be, “This afternoon, after work, I will call my sister and tell her I love her.”
Embrace all emotions! Let’s stop exclusively focusing on the happiness emotion. All emotions serve a purpose and we don’t have to be scared of uncomfortable ones. For example, if we want to be permanently happy, but life takes a turn and we lose a loved one, it would be only natural to be consumed with feelings of sadness and grief. Further, anger is not a terrible emotion. It tells us that something important to us has been violated. Uncomfortable emotions are an important part of life. Experiencing and accepting such emotions are vital to our mental health. So instead of making efforts to suppress uncomfortable emotions, practice noticing them for what they are without rushing to change them. They are there for a reason. And remember, those emotions too shall pass. No emotion is permanent.
Stop comparing yourself to others! Sometimes our joy is dampened when we engage in believing that living someone else’s life is the secret key to happiness. A good friend of mine always says, “Rock watcha got!” And that is so true. Habitual negative social comparisons can cause a person to feel terrible about themselves and lead to anxiety, stress or depression. So try this instead. Begin each day with noticing your successes. What is something that you are doing today that you couldn’t have done 3 weeks ago, months ago or years ago? Are you living a life consistent with your values? Remind yourself of what makes you so special and embrace your unique gifts, skills, talents and accomplishments. Stop wasting time wanting to be like someone else!
I always say that awareness is the first step. So if you are a person that is constantly chasing happiness, pump the brakes and try out some of these suggestions. Share your story by leaving a reply at the bottom of this post. Additionally, begin to practice some of the tips that I have offered and see how they work for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.