We all do different things with our lives. And I’m not here to try and tell you what things are more important than others, which ones are morally just, or even which ones will make you successful.
What I am here to try and do is ask you why you do them.
For most of us, we do the things we do because we want to be happy. It’s a pretty good purpose for our lives right? To be happy?
But I think otherwise.
I think being happy is cool, but that it’s unsustainable. If I’m really being honest, I think it’s more about being fulfilled than it is about being happy.
This is something that’s talked about in the book I’m currently reading, Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence. He questions why we spend so much time feeling good and so little time trying to be self-aware, and that got to me.
So in this post, I’m gonna write about why I think feeling happy isn’t as important as feeling right.
Happiness is only temporary…
Happiness, just like sadness, is relative. It’s a feeling, and because of that it will always be temporary, no matter how strong it may have been in the first place.
But wait, you say, there are things you can think of that have always made you feel good, and you’ve been doing them for x+ years! That feeling didn’t fade!
And that’s where I think fulfillment comes in. When you do something that’s fulfilling, it’s no longer about whether or not that thing felt good or bad for you; It’s that doing that thing felt right.
And I’d like to argue that there’s a difference between feeling good/bad, and feeling right. When you do things that make you feel fulfilled, they complete you as a person, and unlike happiness or sadness, being complete never fades. That fulfilling action can’t be taken back; it’s yours forever.
Feeling good, and feeling right; there’s a big difference…
Think about the difference between going to parties and working out. For most people, we’ll go to parties to feel a temporary elation, a sense of excitement and of getting to be carefree and fun. It’s to feel happy for a little while… but eventually that feeling always fades.
In contrast, look at working out. In the beginning, we work out for the immediate happiness of feeling healthy and looking better. But as the months pass by and it slowly becomes a lifestyle, those who work out can do it every day because it just feels right.
The dedication, progress, and hard work that are all a part of working out are true to who we are, and so working out felt right and is something that’s easy to do every. single. day.
And that’s the difference. You’ll never get to that point in your life where you’re always happy, because happiness as a feeling will always fade. You’ll have to continually work harder to be as happy as you used to be with that thing, and eventually you’ll get to the point where that thing will not longer make you happy at all.
The things that make you happy won’t always do that, but the things that make you feel right will.
Even worse, as the happiness we get from things fades, we can even come to dislike the things we may have once loved! If you only go to parties because they make you feel happy, you will someday no longer like parties or even actively dislike them.
If you do something because it feels right however, you can never hate it. You may grow past it someday, because change is an inevitable part of life. But even then, you will have appreciated it for who it helped you become rather than hated it as something you may have once loved.
But you CAN get to the point in your life where you always feel fulfilled. You get here by doing things that make you feel right, and feeling right will never fade; You know you could do those things over and over and over until the day you die.
So avoid things that are fun?
Not at all.
I think you should absolutely still go out and party, go out and do those things that make you happy. There’s a lot of value in being able to have fun, and life would be very boring otherwise.
But happiness shouldn’t be the end goal.
Just be sure that you’re focusing on doing things that feel right.
Finally getting to that point where you feel happy forever is an impossible goal; as a feeling, it will always fade no matter how happy you may be.
On the other hand, feeling right never fades. It’s true to who you are and builds you as a person rather than just making you feel something for a while.
The purpose of life isn’t to be happy, it’s to be fulfilled. So instead of shooting for doing things that will make you happy, shoot for doing things that will make you feel right.
THAT is a life that lasts, and one that I think is truly worth living.
Let’s go baby.