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On Being Happy

November 19, 2019

I’m a goal-oriented person. So when people say things like, “It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey,” everything inside me wants to push back.

As a person who loves the finish line, the goal, the buzzer at the end of the match, the declaration of the winner, I am all about the destination. At my most cynical, I would say, “If there’s no destination, there’s no point in taking the journey in the first place.” 

Now before you stop reading, I know in my heart that this isn’t the truth. I do know the journey matters, but my natural bent is toward the destination.

Because I’m motivated and driven by goals, I’ve noticed a major shortcoming in this generation—their destination and aim is happiness. Many are actively pursuing and chasing this often fleeting feeling in their personal relationships, in their jobs, and in the nitty-gritty of their daily lives.  

Not convinced of the happiness obsession? Check out the self-help section of the bookstore. Here are just a few titles from a quick search on Amazon: The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life, The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living, The Art of Happiness, and Stumbling on Happiness.

People have been pursuing happiness since the beginning of time, but recent studies are shedding light on its negative effects. On a recent commute to work, I heard the morning host say,

“The quest for happiness always leads to misery.”

At first, it sounded a little harsh, but as I sat in traffic on my morning commute, I realized it was true. I thought about the people I know who spend the most time thinking about how to make themselves happier, and these are the least happy people I know. The people fixated on this elusive, evasive thing called “happiness” are often miserable.

Legendary investor, mutual fund manager, and philanthropist John Templeton once said, “Happiness pursued eludes. Happiness given returns.”

Want to be happy? That’s the secret. The people focused on making other people’s lives better are the most happy. When you focus on making another person smile, rather than working to make yourself feel better, the most amazing thing happens: you feel better.

This week, I want to challenge us to do some self-examination.

Take a hard look in the mirror.

If your goal is happiness, you will never be happy.

But if your goal is to pour out your life for the good of another person—for their happiness—you’ll probably be happier than you ever imagined.


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