• Antti Vanhanen

Happiness That Lasts


Since the dawn of time, mankind has been searching for lasting happiness.


The results have been mixed at best.


In fact, most global indicators of our emotional wellbeing indicate that we are moving in the wrong direction, with stress, depression, and anxiety on the rise across the world.


The reason for this is simple: we are looking in all the wrong places.


Let me explain.


When we do things we enjoy in life, such as play sports, hang out with friends, drink wine, or watch movies, it looks to us as if our good feeling is coming from those things.


It can be tempting to try to reverse engineer this process when we feel bored, empty, insecure, or discontent to get more of the good feelings.


After all, we reason, if those things and activities made us feel good, doing them again will make us feel good now, too.


One could say that trying to reverse engineer happiness by doing things that have before made us happy is an exploitation process where we do an activity simply to extract the good feeling.


Unfortunately, that seldom works.


Instead, we feel even more empty and discontent than before.


The reason we can’t reverse engineer happiness is that happiness never came from the activities, people or circumstances in the first place.


Because happiness was never out there in the world, there is no way to reverse engineer it.


What our culture is completely blind to is the realization that all of our feelings are an inside job, which is to say they arise within us, and then we do things and activities as an expression of those feelings.


When we do things as an expression of our feelings, we naturally enjoy them, whether it be hanging out with friends when we feel social, playing a game when we feel playful, listening to melancholy music when we feel lonely and sad, or working on a challenging problem when we feel inspired.


When we do things in an attempt to elicit particular feelings, we usually struggle to find true enjoyment and fulfillment in them, and often end up feeling empty and frustrated.


To sum it up, happiness cannot be found or acquired by chasing it.


Live your life as an expression of who you are, and happiness will be your trusted companion.

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