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The Unhappy Pursuit of Happiness

September 5, 2023

One of the most dire shortcomings of this generation is its relentless pursuit of happiness.

Most people are actively 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 mulled it over in I-75 traffic, I realized it was true. The people I know who spend the most time working to make themselves happier are the least happy people I know. The people fixated on this elusive, evasive thing called “happiness” are often miserable.

Former Formula 1 race car driver Alex Dias Ribeiro wrote, “Unhappy is he whose success is to be happy.”

In other words, if your primary goal is happiness, you will never be happy.

But I have good news for you (and for me). There is actually a time-tested formula to be happy. Instead of pursuing happiness, make it your goal to serve others.
To add value.
Pour out your life for another person. 

Jesus told his followers that it’s “more blessed” to give than to receive.


What does more blessed even mean? It turns out that when you give, you have more joy and you experience greater happiness.

So if we want to be happier, we should stop thinking about how to make ourselves happy. Instead, consider how we might encourage another person, make their day, or at the very least, make them smile! 

Choose to pursue the happiness (and ultimate good) of others in your life today. I believe you’ll feel more satisfied and happy in this pursuit than you ever would focusing on yourself.


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