EMAIL #124 - 13TH JUNE 2021 - "HAPPINESS IS THE WRONG QUESTION"
After two weeks of strict lockdown in Victoria, restrictions have been relaxed and most aspects of our lives can get back to some form of normalcy. For me, one of the positive aspects of "lockdown" is that our lives are forced to slow down, and you have more time to be with your family and to reflect on the big picture. Inevitably, one of the frequent questions we ask ourselves is “am I happy?”. However, an article I read recently suggests that “happiness is the wrong question” and I tend to agree and here’s why.
To date, I have written half a dozen of my Weekly Emails about happiness, yet I feel there is still a lot more to explore about this; and besides, it’s one of my favourite topics. So, to quickly recap I’d like to repeat a quote that for me best sums up “The Art of happiness”.
“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like.” goodhousekeeping.com
In email #73 + #75 I outlined that we are generally quite bad at knowing what makes us happy and that pleasure is only a fleeting superficial form of happiness. I also noted that hard work and personal challenges are a prerequisite of happiness and the main takeaway from these two emails was that true happiness only comes from inner contentment and acceptance of who we really are.
A recent blog article by Mark Manson titled “Happiness is the wrong question” was built around the old saying that “if you are always searching for happiness, you will never be happy.” Interestingly, this argument is contradictory to most of the “positive psychology” teachings of the last few decades. Manson’s main point relies on the fact that decades of theorizing about positivity and motivation has failed to move the needle on human happiness and this should not be ignored.
Without getting too deep into the psychology of happiness, it turns out that the key to long term contentment is having meaning in your life. Meaningful work, meaningful relationships, community, hobbies etc etc. As Manson points out "Having meaning and purpose creates consistently good emotions which make you feel happy".
“Having a purpose is the difference between making a living and making a life.” Tom Thiss
So it appears that the better question is "what gives your life meaning"? For me, the main things that give my life meaning are, my family, my health, having a project to focus on and building great houses.
Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and find your why.