Stop the Pursuit of Happiness

Sometimes we become so consumed with a goal in the distant future, that when we pause to reflect on where we are, we discover our lives resemble nothing close to that which we are striving for.  We have tied all our worthwhile efforts to the future, that we have neglected nurturing our present.  If our focus is always somewhere down the road, when do we enjoy what we have? 

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”

Guillaume Apollinaire

Are you ever working so hard in the pursuit of happiness that you are making yourself miserable?  Have you surrendered your present happiness to the promise of an unforeseeable future? 

Stop your pursuit.  Try instead living what you hope for in the future, today.  Right now, ask yourself:

  • What can I do today to be happy?
  • What can I do in this moment to be happy?
  • How can I help others feel happy right now?

What can I do today to be happy?

1. Finish Something

I guarantee every person reading this has some task they’ve tucked away in the back of their mind that remains unfinished. 

Whether it’s cleaning out that exploding closet, filing your taxes, or calling your mother, stop procrastinating!  Finishing a procrastinated task has the power to make you happy today in two ways.

First, when we finish something we’ve been putting off, it removes the stress that you have stashed away in the back of your mind.  It might not be creating an exorbitant amount of tension, but it’s still there, needling you.  Stop shirking your responsibilities, take charge of your emotions, and remove that hurdle to happiness.

Second, finishing any task brings with it a sense of euphoric accomplishment.  Simply put, it feels good to finish something.  Boost your happiness today and cross that procrastinated task off your list.   

2. Forgive Yourself

Guilt and regret are the unsavory hobgoblins of our lives.  The only way these two pernicious emotions can be beneficial is if they can inspire us to act to repair a past mistake.  If we can humble ourselves, open up honest communication to the one we may have offended, and sincerely apologize, then regret has served its only purpose. 

Otherwise, carrying around this unnecessary burden is a substantial roadblock to your happiness.  Guilt and regret undermine your self-worth by perpetuating the falsehood that you are no better than your past misdeeds. 

If you have the opportunity to make whatever it is that is causing you to feel guilt, right, seize the opportunity, and then let it go.  By sustaining guilt and regret, you’re empowering your past, which is dead and gone.  Dwelling on the past prevents you from focusing all your needed energy on your present, and allowing yourself to be happy today.

(Letting go of the Past is one of my 4 Crucial and Contemporary Self-Care Tips.  Read more about them, here.)

What can I do right now to be happy?  

1. Laugh

You know the adage, “Laughter is the best medicine”?  Well, there’s a reason the phrase has stuck around as long as it has…it’s true. 

Out of the plethora of research that’s been done on the blissful benefits of laughter, one of my favorite is its ability to change our perspective.  

“Laughter shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light.”

(https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm)

Our perspective is everything.  Teaching our minds to recognize the silver lining on the darkest clouds in our lives, is somewhat of a Herculean task, but an endeavor, nonetheless, that every one of us would benefit from. 

Laughter boosts our immunity, strengthens relationships, and eases mental anguish. It is the balm for our minds, bodies, and spirits.  Laughter reminds us that happiness isn’t only a distant pursuit, but is a state of mind.

Surround yourself with those that bring laughter to your life and laugh easily and often.

(Read more about the benefits of laughter here: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm)

2. Count Your Blessings

There are mornings I wake up, and it seems the moment I am fully conscious, the stresses and worries of my life start falling down upon me like crushing stones.  The weight is palpable, and it is a strain to push them away from me. 

In those moments, I have discovered the best antidote for the weight of the world is to count my blessings. 

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness.”

James E. Faust

Filling my heart with gratitude chases away so much stress that I am able to re-focus and begin my day with more clarity and peace.  Counting our blessings gives our spirits an infusion of light.  When we reflect on all that we have to be grateful for, it reduces the space available in our heart and mind for the negative, making it a chore to hold onto those things that make us miserable. 

Gratitude reduces anxiety, heals heartaches, and makes our spirits more open to receive joy.  A grateful heart is a happy heart

How can I help others feel happy right now?  

When we are truly happy, we possess an altruistic need to share that happiness with everyone we come in contact with.  How can we do that?

1. Serve

We all need a helping hand sometimes.  In fact, I’d dare say that is a gross understatement.  We are all in need every day—of a smiling face, some words of encouragement, a gesture of kindness. 

But it is impossible to serve another with a willing heart and truly charitable spirit, and not be infused with happiness yourself.  While in the service of our fellow men, we may be adding light and joy to their life, but we cannot escape the service without bringing joy into our own lives

Pursuit of Happiness, Hinckley Service

Service is always the answer to what ails you.  Whatever you struggle with, service will restore your mental health, invigorate your body, and brighten your spirit.

Amidst the Sea of Human Need, we are surrounded by opportunities to serve—both big and small.  Do not fool yourself into thinking that a small and simple act of service is less significant to the receiver than a grand one, and let it pass you by.  Seize every opportunity as it comes, and bless your life and the lives of others with happiness.     

2. Be Sincere

Not just in our acts of service, but with all our interactions with others, be sincere.  Help with pure charity, speak with genuine kindness.

Kind words cost us nothing, and yet give us immeasurable happiness in return. But, kind words spoken without sincerity are lies.

I firmly believe that “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” It is better to say nothing than to give someone a “compliment” that isn’t sincere, that is motivated by jealousy, or any other malintent.

But, in your efforts to spread love and kindness, you will discover the more your heart is filled with happiness, the easier it is to scatter sincere sunshine with whomever you cross paths with.

Stop the “Pursuit” and Be Happy Today

Stop in your pursuit of happiness, and just be happy.  Remember that happiness is not a destination, it is a state of being.

When we are joyful, our light is contagious.  A happy spirit draws others to it, and leaves them blessed by the few moments in its presence. 

Laugh, Serve, Forgive Yourself, and Count Your Blessings.  These small tasks will stop your pursuit of happiness and bring happiness to you immediately.   

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