I, as have many, have searched for happiness. Many times we hope that the “happiness” will finally come when we have attained that certain something. We spend countless hours, sometimes countless money, energy, and emotion in pursuit of that happiness. And yet when that great day comes when we finally achieved our goal. Buy that new thing, that new widget. Attain that great relationship, after a little bit or perhaps more time, we awaken to realize that the happiness is just not there. Or at least, that it has come and gone.
How then can we in the end achieve happiness? I think the first question to answer is, what is happiness? And if we can define happiness, is it really achievable? Before writing this post I was not quite sure that that answer can be attained. I then recalled a great definition that I had seen written by Steven Reiss:
“Harvard social psychologist William McDougall wrote that people can be happy while in pain and unhappy while experiencing pleasure; To understand this, two kinds of happiness must be distinguished: feel-good and value-based. Feel-good happiness is sensation-based pleasure. When we joke around or have sex, we experience feel-good happiness. Since feel-good happiness is ruled by the law of diminishing returns, the kicks get harder to come by. This type of happiness rarely lasts longer than a few hours at a time.
Value-based happiness is a sense that our lives have meaning and fulfill some larger purpose. It represents a spiritual source of satisfaction, stemming from our deeper purpose and values. We experience value-based happiness when we satisfy any of the 16 basic desires–the more desires we satisfy, the more value-based happiness we experience. Since this form of happiness is not ruled by the law of diminishing returns, there is no limit to how meaningful our lives can be.” (The full article is here)
To take this one step further and as Tony Robbins has been heard to say, it is in the progress. Every time we move closer to our goals. Every time we become a better “self” we are in essence experiencing happiness or rather we have the opportunity to experience happiness. That is a topic on its own. The “happiness” that we experience in that fleeting moment of having achieved a goal, is dwarfed by the happiness that we feel internally as we evolve, as we become the better and better person we can become. That is where the happiness lies. In the pursuit!