Is your goal in life to be happy?

 

I hear people and specifically parents (including my own) say ALL the time, I just want my kids to be “happy”.

 

But what if happiness was not the goal?

 

What if we were to shift the focus away and give all emotions an even playing field?

 

How would we behave or act differently if we were not targeting happiness all the time?

 

If we ditch happiness as our more revered single pointed focus, would we start to explore our lives and the opportunities that we are presented in different and deeper ways?

 

Yesterday, I was having the conversation with a few friends around the current cultures obsession with “Happy”. There seems to be so many studies, papers and books about happiness, and how we best claim our share, how we maintain it, how we stay in it. And whilst I am no scientific researcher, or psychologist, I wonder why are we so obsessed with Happiness? And when is life ever about staying in the one place, the one spot or the one state?

 

When we know that change is absolutely inevitable, then this goal of reaching our peak “happiness”, becomes an unrealistic and unobtainable illusion that can never be achieved or maintained.

 

And if we do think that we have reached this goal, and we have reached peak Instagram-able pictures, and then something new happens, that’s a little uncomfortable and we don’t want to take a photo of it? Then what. What actually happens when, Life continues to change?

 

When the doubt comes in and we can start to tumble. Sometimes slowly but sometimes fast, we start to head straight down the face of the happiness peak. Head over arse, grasping at one more beach photo as we go down. So once we stop tumbling and hit our ledge, where does our sense of “Happiness achievement” go?

 

As we tumble down, do we ever assess the quality of the Happiness goal, in the first place? I think that if we did, we would realise it really does not hit the mark as a quality life goal.

 

In HR, we are always questioning and challenging manager’s about the quality of the goals they are setting for themselves and for their teams. And we often use the very well-known SMART goal principles. Is happiness Specific? Not likely; Is it Measurable? Potentially (# of instagram-able pictures per month??!?); Achievable? Maybe; Relevant? Yes, but Time bound?? I would think not.

 

So what happens when we measure ourselves against a badly created goal in the first place? Well it can often create the “I’m not enough” cycle. Good enough, Smart enough, Pretty enough, Loving enough, Tall enough, Short enough, Worthy enough, Sexy enough… Fill in your own blanks!

 

Then, just like Ed Sheeran, we can continue to create a looping tape, of the not enough, with a mixing track of the shame, the guilt, the fear, piling all on to our negative belief systems as we keep the track playing with more self-criticism of our ability to keep in the flow, or step up, or challenge ourselves more – or whatever avenue it was that you were pursuing to reach “happiness” in the first place. Continuing to make the elusive happiness that little bit further away from our reach once more.

 

So why do we continue to delude ourselves that ALL we want to be is Happy? To limit ourselves to just this one emotion.

 

What would happen if instead, we put out intention into broadening our experience for life, so that we could feel all the emotions, even the uncomfortable ones. What if we were to shifted the focus from one limited emotion to more of a way of being. To focus on life from the view of being curious? or being surprised? or being in wonder? or being connected?

 

Would this allow us to let go of the narrow view of just a fleeting feeling, and give us a broader base to experience all that life has to offer. If we can’t get curious enough about our goals for ourselves and each other, and we minimise our experience on earth into “happy”; we miss the richness that exists within the life experience and all the power that our other emotions can offer us.

 

And when we can recognise that happy is fleeting, then we can also recognise that sadness will be fleeting, and anger is fleeting and fear is fleeting. That every emotion we have as a response to our life will pass, if given the opportunity to do so.  But would you rather be left judging yourself for the fleeting emotion, or get curious about what created it, what it means and what you can do to use it, to propel you forward to your next new experience.

 

Name your emotion, honour your emotions, work with them, move with them, express them – but don’t making them your end game, as it is the equivalent of trusting a dandelion flower to hold strong in a wind storm. It’s not the job of the dandelion to hold together in a single flower, and it’s not yours to feel the need to hold on to just one emotion. You were built to experience them all, so get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Get curious, be of wonder at your own breadth of feeling and just see where that goal can lead you.

 

What would you do differently if happiness wasn’t the end goal?

 

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Also published on my LinkedIn profile

 

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