12. Jan, 2019

In pursuit of happiness?

There's a big difference between happiness and fulfillment. Happiness is a wonderful thing to have but it comes and goes depending on outside influences. Fulfillment, on the other hand, comes from within. It's a deep seated contentment that comes from giving of ourselves to something that we are passionate about. It comes from knowing our core values and ensuring that we live by them in an authentic manner. It allows us to then connect meaningfully with people and to find balance in our lives by honouring ourselves as well as others. 

Pursuit of happiness is great but, like perfection, it's not something we attain consistently. We can't always be perfect. We can't always be happy. We can always be fulfilled though. Happiness is about instant gratification. And people who live their lives trying to chase it often wind up developing unhealthy habits.

I want you to think about what happens when a person feels as though there is something missing inside themselves. They look for ways to instantly or quickly change that feeling by finding something that makes them happy. It's another case of treating the symptom instead of the root cause. So they take drugs and while they're high, they're happy. Or they drink and enjoy that feeling so they're happy. Or they search for happiness in another person and for a while they're happy. But until they find a sense of contentment, they're always going to wake up and realise that the feeling they enjoyed is gone so they have to chase some more. 

When we find inner peace through fulfillment, our emotions are less likely to dictate our actions because they become less of a roller coaster. We become more resilient to the ups and downs that life throws at us. Things become less dramatic because they are no longer a complete threat to our state of mind. 

There's a bit of a curveball to be thrown here though. We can have fulfillment but if we are sharing space with people who are only willing to chase happiness instead of getting down and dirty and doing their inner work then we wind up being pulled onto their emotional roller coasters. Their chaos pervades everything they touch including us. We are expected to respond to their whims and their need for excitement or drama and we are expected to do so at the cost of our own peace. I believe this is often (not always) the root of toxicity in a relationship. It's a misalignment of values which people are often not aware of. We believe we can pull these people into our peace instead of them pulling us into their storms but if they don't have the capacity to find peace within themselves they're never going to stop creating storms. 

It's something worth thinking about. Which would you rather have? Peace or happiness by instant gratification? Peace brings about a sense of joy that simmers below the surface of our being anyway. But happiness at the cost of peace really just causes unhappiness at the other end of each of life's highs. Take all the time you need to think about it. I can't tell you what to decide but I'm hoping I might have planted a seed.