Isn’t it funny that this widely used and accepted phrase, the pursuit of happiness, is so often misunderstood and misapplied? Pursuit implies a journey; it implies something difficult one must achieve, such as a college degree or convincing the person of your dreams to spend the rest of his or her life with you. Both of those endeavors are understood to take time and lots of effort. You don’t get fed up and quit college after one year because you thought you’d have enough credits to graduate, right?
Yet we do this every day in our pursuit of happiness. We live in an instant-gratification world. Fast food, movies on demand, email, etc. Imagine how long it used to take to wash clothes. Now it’s done quickly with a machine. As a society, we have grown less and less patient as time has gone on despite many tasks taking less and less time to do. One might think with all this extra time not spent cooking or washing clothes the hard way might give us extra time. But it hasn’t!
We are so used to instant gratification that we’ve lost patience with ourselves. Or maybe we have always been impatient with ourselves, but the instant-gratification society has just exacerbated the impatience.
The pursuit of happiness is a long and winding road with many detours, distractions, and setbacks. When you take the Happiness Plunge and dive head-first into a new, happier life, you must expect these detours, distractions, and setbacks. It’s part of the journey, just as detours, distractions, and setbacks are part of a road trip from New York to Los Angeles.
If you dive in head-first thinking that just because you’ve made the decision to be happy and change your life accordingly, then you will be justifiably upset when the first difficult challenge comes up and impedes your progress. Instead of getting depressed or quitting out of frustration, welcome and accept these challenges. When it comes to exercise, the mantra is “no pain, no gain.” In much the same way, if you aren’t met with challenges along the way, the true, pure sensation of happy living won’t mean as much to you once you achieve it. Think of it like the difference between working hard to acquire wealth versus inheriting it. Clearly, the satisfaction of acquiring happiness is far more fulfilling than inheriting it. Challenges force you to grow and then fuel you with confidence upon success. Creating these positive, upward spirals will set you on a path to happiness and allow you to be able to more strongly resist the infinite negative, downward spirals that always seem to pop up in life.
As you pursue happiness, you’ll notice an interesting phenomenon occur. Everything seems better and more pleasant. We often discount the affect we have on our environment, but being a beacon of positivity and happiness radiates outward into everything we touch. You’ll have the Midas touch and people will enjoy being around you more. People will notice your change in attitude and respect the new you. They will even see you as a leader and seek your advice and wisdom in how they might positively change their lives. Again, earning your happiness provides you with much to offer others in your sphere of influence.
But most of all, when you have a smile on your face and feel optimistic, everything you observe through your positive prism will seem better, happier, and more full of love. This is in contrast to having a negative prism and having everything you observe reinforce this negativity.
Thus, the Happiness Plunge is actually an intermediary step along your pursuit of happiness. The first step is recognizing that you are unhappy and want to change things in your life. As you mentally prepare for the detours, distractions, and setbacks ahead, you are gradually taking steps on the diving board getting closer to the edge. When you are as ready as you can be and the proper challenge presents itself, you take the plunge!
What challenges did you find during your pursuit of happiness? Share them below in the comments section!