Why You Can't Find Happiness
by Tiffany Walking Eagle | 7-minute read
We all feel it from time to time, and we all feel its absence too.
We’re all in pursuit of it.
Once I’m married or find the right person, then I’ll be happy.
When I get that promotion, then life will be good.
Once I tackle this debt, then I’ll finally find peace.
After I lose some weight and have clear and glowing skin, then I’ll find confidence and joy.
Have you ever thought anything similar?
Why Happiness Seems Unattainable
A lot of us get trapped in a cycle of thinking that this is the formula that equals happiness:
Hard work/effort —> Success/Achievement —> Happiness
Buuut there’s a major problem with this formula, and that’s that as humans, we always want more.
We adapt to our new environment, and while getting that promotion, losing weight, buying our dream car, or finding our significant other may bring us joy for a moment, we’re disappointed to discover that it didn’t bring the ultimate happiness we thought it would.
If we choose to be happy, right now, regardless of circumstances or not having what we want yet, it becomes a heck of a lot easier to chase the things we want because:
A) motivation, inspiration, effort, and action comes more easily when you’re happy
B) you’re chasing the things you want simply because you want them, not because your happiness depends on it.
(You might wanna read B again to really let it sink in.)
So. How does one find the kind of happiness that isn’t dependent on certain conditions?
Change the formula.
Instead of expecting the formula above to bring us happiness, only to be disappointed over and over again, let’s change the formula rather than expecting different results from the same dang cycle. How about this:
Happiness —> Excellent work —> Achievement/Success
Flip the script. I promise you, it’s a lot easier to do the work you need to do to reach your goals when you’re happy. And no, I don’t mean that you’ll be a smiling crazy person who is always elated no matter what happens to you. Yes, happiness takes work, but choosing to work for it regardless of your circumstances will make getting through the struggles of life far more bearable.
Think about how difficult it is to get through your days if you’re depressed or unhappy with your circumstances. Can you imagine what it would be like to not have to carry that weight around while trying to work toward success?
You’ll never know if you don’t try.
Get back in touch with yourself.
When you’ve grown accustomed to the belief that you simply won’t be happy until you’ve achieved or attained the things you want, it’s likely you’ve grown out of touch with yourself. Escaping your current reality has you constantly moving or trying to occupy yourself so you don’t have to sit alone with your thoughts and think about the present or who you are right now.
Believe it or not, always avoiding the present has a large part to do with why you’re not happy in it. Escaping the reality of life is no way to live, and avoiding who you are won’t help you grow.
So even though it’s scary, practice slowing down a little bit every day and facing who and where you are right now.
Make two lists every single day that you can:
One list of all the things you like about yourself, and one list of all the things you’re grateful for. Write them out and reflect on them.
Then, spend a little time doing something you enjoy. Read, pray, walk, do yoga, go to the beach or mountains, listen to music, make some art. Maybe all of the above.
Being present takes practice, and sometimes you’ll enjoy it, and other times it might feel mundane, but learning to quit running away from reality and finding beauty and joy in the now is essential to figuring out how to be happy regardless of circumstance.
Find something bigger than you.
Take the time to help out others less fortunate than you in some way or another.
Find a cause you’re passionate about, and work to help it.
Deepen your spiritual side through prayer and study.
Look outside yourself and find something or Someone bigger than you to serve, and watch your perspective start to shift.
If you are struggling to find any sense of peace and joy in your life, I highly recommend finding support in some form. Whether it’s a support group online for something you struggle with, an online counselor, a trusted mentor, or a local therapist, you need to start hashing out some of the reasons you’re not happy.
I realize that finding a way to pay for therapy can be difficult, but please do what you can to get it. Most counselors offer a sliding scale based on your income, and some churches or community centers offer free counseling.
The reason why getting professional help is so important is because there’s likely grief, hurt, dysfunction, destructive behaviors, or pain lurking in your life that you need to work through before you’ll be able to start finding joy.
There is no hurt too small to need help. You might think Oh, my childhood hasn’t been that bad compared to some, or my life has been pretty easy. Doesn’t matter. Every single one of us can benefit from support.
We’re often too close to our situation to identify issues or know what to do to help ourselves, which is why we need an outside perspective to learn how to grow, heal, and progress.
Reflect with perspective.
Once you take an honest look at the big picture and compare your life as it is now to how bad it could be, it’s a lot easier to want what you already have.
Your physical abilities or health. The roof over your head. Your senses. Everything you own. Your family.
What if any or all of those things were just, gone?
Can you imagine? You probably don’t want to. I don’t blame you. But wouldn’t that make life so much harder?
Cherish what you have, because nothing in this life is guaranteed. Please, please don’t miss out on the wonderful things in your life right now just because you’re hinging your happiness on a conditional, unknown future.
Recognize that happiness isn’t always Instagram worthy.
Happiness doesn’t always look like sunshine and rainbows and unicorns and fairy dust shooting out your ears.
It can look like a lot of different things.
Sometimes happiness is when you realize that something that happens that would have previously completely ruined your week and crushed you, didn’t crush you or ruin your week because you know how to get through it.
Sometimes it’s saying “no” to that person or habit you struggle to say no to.
Sometimes it’s basking in those times that you’re living in the moment and actually enjoying it.
Sometimes it’s finding consistency in areas you’ve struggled to before.
Sometimes it’s finding satisfaction and a sense of pride in your work, even though it’s not always easy.
We can find happiness in lots of ways.
So what does happiness not look like?
Endless vacations and Instagram model bodies. Driving fancy cars or owning gorgeous clothes. Having a picture-perfect family or endless wealth.
There’s nothing wrong with those things, but they won’t bring you true joy. If you keep believing the lie that those things somehow will, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
But you don’t have to keep falling for it. You can be happy right now, just as you are. It won’t be instant. But if you work, you can learn how to find it.
Are you happy?
Share your story, and leave me any questions you have below in the comments. <3