Most people assume that “happiness” involves living a life that is constantly filled with joy and excitement.
Where each day is pleasurable and easy to get through. As a result, they do their best to make each day as easy as possible and try to remain happy regardless of what is happening around them.
The reality is, it is impossible to always be happy.
In fact, if you try to put on a forced smile and remain happy during any tough times you experience, it may force you to internalise difficult emotions and actually increase your stress levels.
In this article, I’ll explain why true happiness is about embracing the bad with the good and embracing everything that life throws at you.
By living in this way, you can experience a deeper form of happiness that brings long-lasting joy and empathy into your life.
What is happiness?
Philosophers have been talking about the concept of happiness for thousands of years.
In fact, the Greek philosopher Aristotle was famously quoted as saying “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”
However, the ancient Greek philosophers didn’t view happiness as simply “feeling good” about yourself and your life — which is the modern take on happiness.
They viewed happiness as a life that is lived in harmony with nature and accepting of the suffering and discomfort in life.
Their version of happiness necessitated the acceptance of disappointment, death, loneliness, and other forms of suffering.
The Greeks would view this modern version of happiness as fake or self-deceiving.
Because any person who refuses to accept the suffering and discomfort in life is delusional and not living a truthful life.
Interestingly, Buddhists philosophers have a similar view of happiness.
For a Buddhist, the path to happiness begins with an understand of the root causes of suffering and the acceptance that life itself is suffering.
A Buddhist doesn’t focus on making every day happy, they focus on accepting the world around them and obtaining happiness through that act of acceptance (along with compassion and wisdom).
The pitfalls of always focussing on short-term happiness
Jennifer Hecht is the author of a book called The Happiness Myth.
In this book, she explains why the modern version of a happy life is somewhat flawed and has led people to believe that being happy every day is achievable.
She also describes different types of happiness, which may be in conflict with one another.
In one example, Hecht suggests that having a successful career can provide a great deal of happiness to a person’s life.
However, it requires years of work, including some very difficult periods which may actually reduce your happiness levels.
You may often find the difficult process of building a successful career to be at conflict with other activities that make you happy.
As you build your career, you may not be able to take as many vacations or spend your weekends away.
These different forms of happiness will be at conflict.
The long-lasting happiness that a successful career brings about will never eventuate if you focus on activities that only bring about short-term happiness.
Another problem with attempting to be happy all of the time is that it is often a delusory act.
If you are compelling yourself to feel a specific emotion, you are suppressing other emotions.
Trying to artificially remain positive after you have been fired from a job can actually make the experience more difficult.
Forcing yourself to put on a happy face during these times suppresses emotions like anger, frustration, and fear.
These emotions don’t go away by simply focussing on being happy.
They will manifest in other ways, like causing you to overindulge in food or alcohol.
Ideally, you should express these emotions in constructive ways before going back to your happy self.
The last pitfall of being happy all of the time is that it can sap your motivation levels.
This occurs because most human beings are driven to accomplish great things by negative feelings like boredom, insecurity, and frustration.
These emotions are actually responsible for driving a lot of the positive change that occurs in our lives.
That feeling of boredom might lead you to quit your dead end job and find the job of your dreams.
Being insecure about your looks might cause you to hit the gym more often, improving your physical fitness and self esteem.
These kinds of changes will help you find true happiness instead of the thin veneer of ‘fake’ happiness.
I hope you enjoyed reading Why True Happiness Isn’t About Being Happy All The Time.
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