Let me repeat that: The goal is not happiness. You might be sitting there thinking to yourself, “But why? Shouldn’t everyone aspire to be fully satisfied with their life, themselves, and their relationships? Shouldn’t everyone be happy? Why would you not want to be happy?”
In order for us to really dive into this concept of happiness, I’m going to share a personal experience that happened to me just last month, so bare with me:
It was a regular Sunday, and I was doing some laundry while simultaneously fighting those damn Sunday scaries. I had just gone for a run for the first time in what felt like forever and was taking that runner’s high in stride with my productivity. All of a sudden, I heard a ‘ping’ coming from my phone in the other room, signaling a new text message. Before I even picked it up, I instantly froze seeing my ex’s name light up on the screen along with four prying words: Hey, how are you?
After my brief state of shock, I turned my phone upside down and decided to ignore the text. Why would he reach out to me like this? What the hell does he want? All of these thoughts and more swirled around my head as I continued to ignore him for the next four hours. By the fifth hour, I couldn’t help myself and opened up the message.
There were those four words again, glaring at me, begging to be answered. But because I was filled with a mix of anger and annoyance, I decided against answering the question. Instead, I responded to the four word question with a five word question of my own: Why are you reaching out?
I know what you’re thinking: ignore him, sis! You should’ve left him on read! In hindsight, yes, that’s exactly what I should’ve done. But my pride had other plans, and I was too curious to know why he was being intrusive. I mean, we had been broken up for five months for God’s sake. Either way, the conversation lasted for about an hour, during which he admitted why he reached out and I finally let my guard down and admitted that I was doing well with my job, blah blah blah. He then followed up with another prying question regarding my state of happiness.
Was I happy? Was I content?
I sat there, looking at my phone, and took a giant deep breath. Chills rushed over me as I experienced one of the most eye-opening epiphanies of my life.
I finally came to terms with the toxic way society paints this image of happiness. Everyone talks about it, aspires to have it, preaches about it, and craves it. It’s almost as if we’ve unconsciously set this unrealistic standard that our goal should be happiness all day, every day. Until we reach that point, we haven’t made it yet.
So what does this mean?
Does this mean that every New York Times bestselling author is always happy? How about winners of the Nobel Prize? Grammy-award winning artists?
Sure, success can definitely equal happiness, but it doesn’t mean we have to be happy all of the time. It shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all.
The times in my life when I still believed that happiness was the be-all and end-all was when I, ironically, became the most depressed. That sort of toxic positivity made me feel like a shell of my former self. There I was, presenting this facade of a happy face to the outside world, and for what?
But it was because I believed that in order for me to be liked and accepted, I had to keep showing that bubbly personality of mine, even though I was tearing apart at the seams in reality.
Years later, and I’ve never been more at peace with myself, my life, and the trajectory of it. When I feel happy, I feel it. When I feel angry, I feel it. Sad? Grumpy? Creative? Energetic? Tired? Yep—I feel every damn emotion.
So what changed?
What changed was my outlook. What changed was switching the idea that I had to be happy in order to succeed in life. What changed was the realization that there’s more to the spectrum of human emotions than happiness. We are not robots. We are not perfect. And that’s the beauty of existence. Every twist and turn in life leads you to where you are today and takes you to where you’re going. Relish in those twists and turns. Appreciate the hurdles.
So if you’ve made it this far, switch your belief that happiness is the goal, and replace it with peace. If your goal is peace, you’ll always be okay. Even if hardships arise, you’ll be okay. You’ll accept that life is unpredictable, and with that, take every day in stride.
So start uncovering that inner peace that has always been inside of you today and always. We’re not perfect and we never will be—and darling, that’s beautiful.