At the time of writing this it’s been 2 years since I left my old life.
2 years since I put in my notice and left my good paying, growth oriented career. 2 years since I left my mortgage and home I owned behind. 2 years since I took a chance on the unknown and went with my heart rather than my head for the first time in my life.
I can honestly say my life is ten times better than it was even though I’m making less than half of what I did before, rent a home, and still tend to favor rational over emotional.
But for all the good in my life there is still unhappiness. I’m not perfect. I think some folks read this blog thinking I’ve got it figured out. Believe me – far from it.
I left my old life thinking that if I just did what my heart wanted to do then I would be happy. I left that life very naïve about happiness. Knowing the idea of happiness was a journey and not a destination. But not truly believing that.
2 years later and I’m just now starting to come to the realization that happiness truly is a full-time, every day thing. Not a one day thing.
But here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned on ultimate happiness.
Happiness…is a shitty buzzword.
There are so many blogs, coaches, mentors, articles, videos, motivational speakers, etc. out there that focus on happiness. They sell happiness. Ways to get there. How you can be as happy as them one day.
But the truth is that the word “happiness” is overused. The meaning of it has gotten watered down. Happiness is not a one size fits all word for everyone yet many of us (myself included) try to explain it like it is.
Imagine yourself eating a meal for the first time and it’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten. Then the next day you eat it again. It’s still amazingly delicious but maybe it’s lost a little of it’s zing because you have expectations now. But you continue to eat it. Once or twice a week. Until one day you realize you don’t even like it that much anymore.
That’s what this phenomenon of ultimate happiness is doing in our society these days.
But don’t get me wrong. The topic itself is still very important to stay aware of. It’s just that in the last 2 years I’ve started to realize one thing.
Happiness is not what we’re all after.
You see, when you look at all of our internal and external battles, ultimately we are not fighting for this intangible thing called “happiness.”
What we are fighting for is something called control.
Before I go on any further I want you to take a second and think of an aspect or two of your life that you’re unhappy with. Think about how it feels. How you wish it was different.
Now think about how you could change that feeling. What would you do to make yourself “happy” in that situation?
I can pretty much guarantee that the happiness you seek comes with an additional amount of control you have over the situation.
Take today’s current events. No matter what political side you’re on, I think we can all agree that with the governmental shut down and other matters, the Republicans obviously do not necessarily care about Obamacare or the debt ceiling. What they do care about is being heard “for once.” They care about control.
And don’t think Democrats are any different. They want to maintain that control they’ve always had.
For the most part, none of it has anything to do with politics at this point.
And I use this heated political event as an example for a reason other than to show you our politicians are human like us.
I use it because if you’re into this debate at all you’ve likely become slightly heated. Whether you’re on the Rep. or Dem. side or a different one.
But you’ve become heated for a reason and it’s not ultimate happiness. You have this feeling because of control. You lack it. Our government is out there making decisions, shutting national parks down, taking money away from women and children, jobs away from the working class. We’ve lost control as the people.
Getting what you want is not happiness. It is control.
So our ultimate goal in life is control and not happiness…what now?
The second and related thing I have learned in the last 2 years is that we as a society are primarily one-track minded. The only way to go is forward.
But as one of my personal heroes, Yvon Chouinard, once said,
“You can’t just keep trying to make a flawed system work. It’s like coming to an edge of a cliff, you don’t simply keep going. You stop, turn around, and then take a forward step.”
So if we all ultimately want more control in our lives we’ve been trained in our lives to add more.
Can’t pay bills? Make more money.
Can’t fit all your stuff inside your apartment? Buy a bigger home.
Can’t make your marriage/relationship work? Give up and try someone new.
The solution we’ve been trained to use is adding more.
But what if we went the other way? What if instead of making more money we made less money? What if we got rid of debt instead of adding it? What if we traded our habits of bringing more into our lives for the illusion of control for taking more out of our lives for actual control?
What if you were happy with what you had because you weren’t stressed about paying bills? What if you didn’t care about keeping up with the Joneses? What if in your heart you knew that you had complete control over your life and you were prepared for the unexpected?
Control brings you happiness.
But we have to change the way we think. Get rid of the illusion of control. Instead of continuing on the path you are on, turn around and start walking forward.
Happiness is a life long journey. You will never find happiness 100% of the time for the rest of your life.
But control is something you can choose. And with that choice comes happiness and freedom.
Gaining control of your life is the quickest way to happiness.
It’s the feeling you have when you are in charge of your life. Not when life is in charge of you.