Jennifer Moss wrote a very popular article on Harvard Business Review about what it takes to feel happy. “On paper, our life appeared rosy. Still, I couldn’t seem to find the joy. I always felt so guilty about my sadness. My problems were embarrassingly first world”, she wrote.
When her husband had a life-threating disease that wouldn’t let him walk for more than a year, he started feeding himself with content that would help him overcome this setback mentally. And of course, Jennifer supported him all the time.
After much investigation, they started to see some patterns that indicated that happiness was not a destination but rather a journey.
Not only do we tend to misunderstand what happiness is, we also tend to chase it the wrong way. Shawn Achor, the researcher and corporate trainer who wrote the HBR article “Positive Intelligence,” told me most people think about happiness the wrong way: “The biggest misconception of the happiness industry is that happiness is an end, not a means. We think that if we get what we want, then we’ll be happy. But it turns out that our brains actually work in the opposite direction.”
Buote agrees: “We sometimes tend to see ‘being happy’ as the end goal, but we forget that what’s really important is the journey; finding out what makes us the happiest and regularly engaging in those activities to help us lead a more fulfilling life.”
In other words, we’re not happy when we’re chasing happiness. We’re happiest when we’re not thinking about it, when we’re enjoying the present moment because we’re lost in a meaningful project, working toward a higher goal, or helping someone who needs us.
In the following very short but insightful TED Talk, Richard St. John tells us the story of his career failure and how he reached that same conclusion.
“Success isn’t a one-way street; it’s a continuous journey. If we want to avoid the success-failure syndrome we just keep following this eight principles because that’s not only how we achieve success, it’s how we sustain it.” he says.
Seth Godin also writes about this in one of his latest posts “It works better to focus on each step instead of being distracted by a promised secret exit.” he says.
So, don’t worry so much about the destination, and remember yourself every day to enjoy the journey.
Ricardo is Motivational Speakers Daily resident Editor. If it makes you say "OMG! That's awesome!!!" then Ricardo probably wrote it. Despite the subject of his articles Ricardo is surprisingly well adjusted. When he's not writing, he's listening to music, cooking, and playing with his girls.