Have you ever found yourself saying, “I just want to be happy?” Finding happiness is a common goal we set for our relationships, and why not? If you’re going to invest time in someone, then you may as well be happy when you do it. While happiness is an admirable goal, it can also be a limiting one. I’ve had some exciting conversations on happiness recently, and I wanted to share my thoughts on what happens when happiness is the only goal.
We know that happiness is a choice–it’s not something that magically appears. Instead, happiness is a state we create with our thoughts. Our circumstances impact happiness because when life gets tough, it’s challenging to think in a way that maintains happiness. For example, after ending a serious relationship, your thoughts often focus on what you have lost and how sad you should be. When you want to feel better, you think differently. You call on the thoughts that create your happiness. We’ve all done it. It looks like giving yourself a pep talk to get through a tough day or smiling in the mirror to brighten your mood. Channeling your thoughts to focus on happiness has its purpose. However, to be fully engaged in life, you must be willing to move beyond happiness.
Sheer happiness, without more, is a short, boring story.
The only way to grow and progress in life is to do things that temporarily disrupt happiness. The goal you have that terrifies you–do it. Go on the date you’ve been afraid to accept. Start that new business. Take the trip you keep fantasizing about. Have the uncomfortable conversations you need to have to set necessary boundaries. Love with everything in you and risk getting hurt. Be willing to experience the fear, frustration, embarrassment, and confusion of being fully alive. When you challenge yourself to take the essential steps that disrupt your happiness, you allow yourself to evolve. Eventually, those things get easier because you’ve become a better version of yourself.
Letting go of happiness as the goal doesn’t mean you live an unhappy life. In fact, along with the growth from challenging experiences and feelings, you gain perspective and resilience. Ultimately, you find peace in the discomfort of growth. That is a powerful place to be, especially in your relationships. For example, imagine having peace with the fear of being vulnerable because you understand that it will nurture your relationship. Similarly, making peace with temporary loneliness, instead of filling that space with someone not worth your energy and time, strengthens you as an individual. These experiences may not sound like happiness, but they certainly display the power you have to act despite your fear.
Life is challenging by design. We have so many opportunities to grow, so long as we are willing to let go of the idea that we must always be happy. It’s okay to make space for other emotions. Life includes sadness, anger, and pain because these experiences catapult us down our journey. Relationships bring bad days, bad arguments, and complicated emotional exchanges. This contrast is what makes life and love worth it! Sheer happiness, without more, is a short, boring story. With the challenges of growth and the ups and downs of relationships, happiness becomes an epic tale full of exciting plot twists, passion, and excitement. When you fully engage with all of it, the happiness becomes so much richer. What type of story do you want your life to have? What kind of relationships do you want to create? You can always choose to be happy. Why not also make the choices that bring growth?