We’re living longer, have bigger houses, and we have unlimited choices in almost every way imaginable .. what to watch, the flavour of our kombucha, you name it.
So how it can be that the average person today is less happy than the average person was in 1950?
Why has depression and anxiety skyrocketed, even though we benefit from the most incredible medical and health advancements in the history of our world?
Why are more firefighters dying today from suicide than from actual fire?
Today, anyone can start a business and build their own future, and the barriers to starting a “side hustle” are almost zero.
We literally have more options and choices that we’re free to pursue, ever in the history of the world.
So why are so many people unhappy, restless and asking themselves “is this all there is?”
I blame that asshole Thomas Jefferson.
Yes, the guy who drafted the Declaration of Independence that came to be in 1776. His original draft, after going through various edits and alterations, ultimately was brought into being with the assertion that every human being has the inalienable right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”.
The right to life? Hell yes, everyone has the right to their own life and to live it how they choose it. And liberty absolutely is something every person has the right to enjoy as well.
But it’s that third piece where he set everyone up.
Not because anyone shouldn’t have the right pursue anything they want in their life.
But because the very concept that happiness is something you “pursue” .. that it’s out there somewhere, just around the corner, waiting for you to find it .. may just be the greatest falsity that’s contributed to so many of our problems today.
When you orient your pursuits towards chasing happiness, you’re inevitably going to be disappointed and get lost.
It’s kind of a tragic joke, really, that one of the most important documents ever created in the Western world set such a false expectation.
It’s this very belief that you can “find happiness” that is at the root of so much depression, disillusionment and angst in society.
Perpetuating this myth that happiness is something external to you drives people, as they say, to do shit they hate .. to buy shit they don’t want .. to impress people they don’t like.
The fact that this deceptive belief is found in such an important document that’s more than 240 years old tells us this is a mental struggle that human beings have been having for a very long time.
And sadly, many continue to struggle while they seek out the thing, person or place that is finally going to make them happy.
If you’ve fallen into the trap of chasing things outside of yourself to become happier — and let’s face it, all of us have done this at some point — you’ve no doubt discovered how that simply doesn’t work.
If you’ve ever achieved some momentary sense of happiness, that moment likely passed quickly and left you wondering why you still aren’t feeling content or happy.
Ok, so chasing happiness doesn’t seem to be working for anyone .. so what’s the alternative?
If you’re looking for a simple, 5 step process to become happy, sorry to burst your bubble – but there is no such thing.
The truth is, cultivating a happy and meaningful life is actually a lot of work — but likely the most rewarding work you’ll ever do.
So where do you actually start?
If you haven’t already decided to become fully accountable for your life and the results in it, that’s step one.
Once you’re prepared to be in the driver’s seat without excuses, you need to decide that you’re willing to start exploring some of the reasons why you’ve wanted some of the things that you’ve chased before.
If you thought that new car would change your life and make you happy — but it didn’t — you need to start thinking deeper about why you thought that car was the answer.
(and by the way, a car is never the right answer to anything dealing with happiness in life).
The real secret is cultivating happiness is exploring your emotions and motivations. It’s about exploring why it is that you do what you do .. understanding why you pursue the things that you do.
Until you start to understand what’s really driving you beneath the surface, you’ll continue to pursue external validations and things that won’t fill the hole you feel deep in your soul.
You’ll be surprised to find that if you do this, happiness may begin to pursue you instead.