Why the Pursuit of Happiness is Actually Making You Unhappy

If you don’t want to be unhappy, stop chasing happiness. Your level of happiness does not define the success or failure of your life.

By Jenny Dsouza ~

Pursuit of Unhappiness Lifeism

Happiness is a state of mind that everyone desires. It's easy to want happiness and even easier to chase after it, but you'll never find it if you're always looking for something else.

I love being happy as much as the next person, but I've come to realize that it's not as great as we all think it is. I can't remember the last time I was truly happy because happiness is just an emotion—and that means it can be fleeting at best. If you're constantly chasing "the happy" then you will only end up disappointed when your idea of bliss doesn't materialize immediately or when life throws curveballs at us out of nowhere (which happens often).

Happiness is overrated

If you're hoping to be happy, you are going about it the wrong way. Happiness isn't the goal of life; it's simply a byproduct of living a meaningful life.

Happiness is not the same thing as joy, contentment, or optimism. It's not an emotion or a feeling at all—it's just a state of being that comes from having your needs met and your expectations exceeded in an ongoing way over time—that's it!

Happiness has nothing to do with money, success, or relationships; those things just make us more likely to experience happiness because they increase our sense of security (which we need before we can feel free enough to be happy).

I never understood people who used to say things like, "I wish I were happier." Or: "I would be so much happier if only…" But now I understand why they say these things: They don't know what happiness means because they have never experienced true happiness themselves!

Happiness is an emotion not a way of life

Happiness is an emotion, not a state of being. Happiness is not a permanent condition, and it certainly isn’t something you can maintain all the time. It's also not a way of life—to think that there's some secret formula for being happy all the time is simply unrealistic and unhealthy.

You may see ads or hear stories about how someone “found happiness” or “achieved happiness,” but these are just examples of people trying to convince themselves that they've found contentment when really they're just experiencing fleeting moments of joy or satisfaction. The truth is that everyone experiences these emotions at different times throughout their lives; however, when you base your entire existence around them (i.e., obsessing over whether or not today will be one where things go right), then what happens when those moments stop coming?

Happiness is a flighty thing

Happiness is a flighty thing. It's hard to pin down, and even harder to predict. It can come out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. It can also last for years on end—but it will not always be there for you when you need it most.

Happiness is not a constant; it comes and goes in waves, ebbing and flowing like the tides of the ocean over time. And when we measure our lives by its presence or absence rather than by how we live them every day, we may find ourselves taking our happiness more seriously than we should—and thus doing harm to ourselves if things don't go exactly as planned (which they often don't).

Stop Seeking Permanent Happiness

A common misconception is that happiness is a permanent state. Most people think of it as a destination, but it's not. Happiness isn't something that you reach and then stay there forever, like the top of a mountain or your favorite restaurant's parking lot. Happiness is fleeting; it comes and goes in waves, sometimes lasting days at a time and sometimes disappearing for months before returning again.

It's also important to remember that while happiness may seem like something we should always be striving towards (and some people do strive towards it), there are many things besides our own individual happiness that can make us happy on any given day: our friends, family members, pets—even strangers who happen to smile back at us when we smile at them can bring us joy!

No one is happy all the time

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably always trying to squeeze some extra happiness into your day. But it seems like I’m not alone in this: it is a distinctly human impulse to want more of everything—more love, more money and even more time on Earth. We want our lives to be filled with joy and meaning (or at least not filled with sadness). And while we may have moments where we feel contented and fulfilled, they don't last long: life is just too short for that! We all have ups and downs; there are times when we're happy and times when we're sad. But here's the thing: no one is happy all the time—not even those who seem happiest have 24/7 smiles plastered across their faces (and even if they did, wouldn't you think there is something wrong with them?).

So, what do people mean when they say, “I need more happiness in my life”? They're saying that there was something missing from their day-to-day experience; something wasn't quite right about how their lives were going at present moment."

Happiness isn't a barometer for success or failure.

Often, we tend to set up happiness as a barometer for success or failure. We use it as an excuse not to try new things, or we measure our achievements based on how happy we feel when we accomplish something instead of looking at what really matters: whether or not that achievement actually makes us better off than we were before.

As someone who has spent most of her life worrying about being happy enough, I know all too well how easy it is to fall into this trap and let our emotions take over our decisions about everything from career choices to relationships.

Everything won't always be happy, and that's okay.

One of the best things about being human is that we're not always happy. This really is the whole point of the article. There are so many emotions to experience, and it's okay to be sad or angry or disappointed or stressed out or scared sometimes. You shouldn't feel guilty for your negative emotions; they're only human! If you're constantly trying to be happy, you'll probably end up feeling like a fraud when something goes wrong.

And while it's true that some people have experienced great trauma and sadness in their lives, there are also many people who have never gone through anything hard at all—and these people can still be happy! The point is that everyone has ups and downs, but instead of measuring yourself with an unrealistic goal like “always be happy” (which is impossible), try just measuring yourself on whether you're generally in a good place mentally and physically. If every day feels like walking around with blinders on because you don't want to see anyone else's struggles but your own (which happens often), then focus on improving yourself before judging others' situations too harshly.

Constantly Chasing "The Happy" Will Make You Miserable

The problem with chasing "the happy" is that happiness is not a destination. Happiness can't be reached and then enjoyed for a few moments before it fades away because it's not something you find or get; it's something you do. 

Happiness isn't just about feeling good, but also about being good to yourself and others, which takes time and effort on your part—and that's why chasing "the happy" will always lead to disappointment in the long run: You'll never achieve the state of mind where you feel content with yourself all day long by chasing a vague idea of happiness. The more we try to grasp onto this elusive goal of constant blissful contentment, the less likely we are able to appreciate what little joys life has to offer us when they come along (like an unexpectedly sunny day).

Adopt the Japanese Concept of Ikigai

So what should you do, if not chase happiness? Give up? No, not at all. We suggest looking into the Japanese concept of Ikigai. Ikigai translates to "the reason for which you get up in the morning," and it's about finding your purpose in life. As a culture, we tend to be focused on what makes us unhappy rather than focusing on what makes us happy; but when we're looking at our lives, it's important to look at both sides of the coin.

When people start thinking about their ikigai, they realize that they already have some things they consider meaningful—things they love doing and would enjoy doing even if no one else was around or paying attention. These are worth keeping an eye on as well; if there were nothing else to do with them besides enjoying them yourself, that would be enough justification for making sure these activities always stay a part of your life!

If this doesn't seem like something you've done before (or even if it does), try writing down three things that make you happy every day for 30 days straight without fail—no matter what happens during those 30 days (including vacations). At the end of those 30 days, take another look at everything that made its way onto paper throughout those weeks: Do any patterns emerge? Are there any habits or activities which repeat themselves regularly over time? 

This exercise will give insight into areas where joy can be found again and again throughout different seasons. We recommend reading the book if this simple exercise does not help.

We are a society that is obsessed with finding happiness. We want to be happy, and we think that the key to this lies in the things we do or buy. But what if I told you there was another way? What if I told you that happiness isn't something that can be achieved through materialistic means or constant activity? Well, it's true! The only way to find true happiness is by living in accordance with your values and goals--not chasing fleeting moments of joy.


Popular on Lifeism