If Happiness is the Goal, Why are We Not Happy Yet?

If happiness is the goal, and has been for so long, why are we not happy yet? It's a good question right? It's a question that is  SO applicable to our lives and yet we continue to blindly chase this thing called happiness.  Are you sitting down? Prepare to have your mind blown. 

Happiness doesn't have to be the goal.

Boom.

What?! Happiness doesn't have to be the goal?! It sounds ludicrous because it seems that most of us grew up with the belief that happiness is the main goal. Especially in a culture where individuality and independence has prevailed as the dominant ideology. Many of us have the privilege to have many options presented to us big and small every day. Do what makes you happy. As long as you are happy. Follow your bliss. So why aren't we all maniacally happy yet?! We can forever be chasing happiness and we often get disillusioned by what we think will make us happy.....when I make THIS amount of money I will be happy, when I find the right partner I will be happy, when I have a child I will be happy, when I am famous I will be happy, when I buy property I will be happy. And what happens when we meet a marker that we set for ourselves and we are not unequivocally happy all the time? We continue striving, reaching for happiness that is near or far.  Happiness can feel elusive and empty. "Are you happy?" Is a question that implies that we should be happy, and if we are not something is wrong.

Shifting the focus from chasing happiness to what brings meaning and purpose to your life can lead to joy and contentment, which are more tangible, full emotions. That said, meaning and purpose can mean that we put our blood, sweat, and tears into something. That we risk, that we trust. There can be struggle in meaning and purpose, that is what makes it real. Ask yourself what brings you meaning? What brings you purpose? This can be as big as spirituality, nature, taking care of a loved one, pursuing a goal, or as small as eating a piece of fruit, taking a pet for a walk, doing what you loved to as a child, or having a cup of coffee in the morning.

Humans are not wired only for happiness. We are wired to experience a full range of emotion and to strive to be happy all the time is an impossible feat. See if you can allow yourself to experience that full range of human emotion and ask yourself what brings meaning to my life? Can I move towards that however difficult that may be. Can I lean into discomfort? When the pressure to be happy is lifted, paradoxically there is a freedom and a vastness of opportunity that appears.