quite simply: when expectations match reality!
But how often do these two things equate?
Certainly not often enough; reality bites! So let’s just lower our expectations and get on with it, right?
Well, it turns out when it comes to happiness, we already have. In modern society, we’ve come to define happiness purely as personal pleasure. We’ve democratized it as an individual right and pursued it to a frenzy. We’ve bought every book, pill, and self-help solution to be HAPPIER, only to find ourselves more miserable than we started. Check out Darrin McMahon’s Happiness, A History and his article here at the Greater Good Science Center.
With rates of depression and anxiety on the rise in the U.S. and around the world…
It’s time we realize that the expectation of happiness as a human right is flawed! It’s unreal.
Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, has contributed to the mounting evidence of a set-point for happiness – a genetically predisposed “baseline happiness.” In fact, researchers say that 50% of our individual happiness is inherited. And we’re up against another challenge – as an intrinsic part of our personality our happiness level doesn’t change much over time. While we may get a boost or rush of happiness as a result of a positive experience in the moment, we quickly return to our baseline. It’s never enough. We’re always left empty, seeking, expecting, and wanting more and more.
We’d be happier if only we’d realize that happiness is not our natural state.
Quite the opposite, we seem to be largely unhappy with the limitations of our fragile human existence. Yet that same unhappiness drives us to overcome, invent, create, and work in ways to vastly improve the world around us.
In reality, the pursuit of happiness often entails immense suffering, intense struggle, and costly personal sacrifice.
Happiness for happiness sake is a dead end pursuit.
Happiness is not about feeling good; it’s about doing good! And true happiness is found not in a fleeting moment of pleasure, but at the end of the journey – as the reward of a meaningful and virtuous life.