Do you find yourself chasing happiness and feeling unhappier?
At first glance, we would think that chasing happiness should make us happy. After all, we’re all actively in search of what would make us happy. However, this is so far from the truth. Chasing happiness only leaves you feeling unhappier. Sounds weird, right?
Well, there is a familiar feeling that accompanies the chase for happiness. You end up feeling overwhelmed and anxious. That pressure to be happy all the time could take a toll on you. The truth is, we don’t really understand what happiness truly is. Societal misunderstandings have fed us with a lot of pressure and anxiety surrounding discussions about happiness.
This results in chasing happiness out of our lives, instead of letting this blissful feeling in. A lot of us are so busy looking for something else that we don’t recognize when happiness hits. These societal misunderstandings are myths surrounding happiness that we have accepted for far too long.
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Myths About Happiness
Here are the 3 famous myths by society that shape how we view happiness.
1. Happiness Means No Negative Emotions
As unbelievable as it may sound, you can laugh and smile all day but still not be happy. Happiness doesn’t mean you’ll have to express joy 24 hours a day or 7 days a week. It’s a huge myth that is shared by a lot of people around the world.
You don’t have to be numb to negative feelings to be truly happy. Instead, it is about the full human experience, which includes both positive and negative emotions. The complete human experience involves every emotion that makes us human, even the bad.
If you wish to hone your ability to thrive and survive in today’s world, then you need to let go of this myth about happiness being the absence of negative emotions. Of course, negative emotions make us feel uncomfortable.
However, there is a good side to this. These negative feelings serve as an alert system to let you know the things that are wrong and how you can correct them. Instead of running away from these emotions, let them be a guide, and manage them properly.
2. Success Leads to Happiness
Now more than ever, we live in a society that is becoming more obsessed with success as each day passes. Everyone is working so hard to be famous, make a lot of money, and be the best in their fields. However, it’s not uncommon to see people who are “fulfilled” but unhappy.
This is because success doesn’t fuel your happiness. Sure, you may have that sense of achievement that comes with winning, but it would fade after a while to the level of happiness you had before that win. Being famous or having more money doesn’t make you happy either, especially if your basic needs are already covered.
So, what’s the truth here? Happiness fuels success instead. You can get the type of success you want when you focus on your physical and mental well-being first. Try to live more in the present, and you will notice how reduced your stress levels become.
3. Happiness Has Only One Formula
It’s simple: what makes you happy is not the same thing that makes the next person happy. People erroneously assume that we all want the same things in life to be happy. Everyone is unique, and you can only be fulfilled when you create your unique life.
One common reason for the propagation of this myth is that a lot of people don’t know what makes them happy. If thoughts about money make you stressed, you assume that this must be the key to your happiness. However, while moving a little above the poverty line increases happiness, it has no correlation to happiness beyond that.
Why You Shouldn’t Chase Happiness
Ever heard of the phrase, “If you spend your whole life trying to be happy, you will fail?” Chasing happiness will only leave you as disgruntled and discontent as a lot of other people. The only difference could be that you’ll be pretending that you’re happy instead.
You may be trying so hard to convince yourself that you’re genuinely happy. However, deep down, you’re screaming in pain and only pretending to be happy. This is not the right way to live your life. If you want to live a happy life, you need to embrace all experiences fully. Let yourself experience every wonderful moment, even the terrible ones.
Chasing happiness is only an attempt to block out the unpleasant aspects of life, and you can never sustain this. A life well-lived will contain both horrors and wondrous moments. Instead of sheltering yourself from pain, use it as a tool to learn and grow. It is through the pain that a lot of us learn to appreciate when good things happen. The statement that chasing happiness only leaves you feeling unhappier is backed by scientists.
Researchers from the University of Toronto and Rutgers Universities published their study in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. It showed that when people try to pursue happiness, they will keep feeling like time is running out, which would make them unhappy. In the study, a group of participants was asked to list things that made them happy while others were asked to watch comedy clips.
Those who saw happiness as a goal felt like they had less free time than the others. From this study, we can see that time seems to vanish while we actively pursue happiness as a goal rather than just enjoying the moment.
Life would be incredibly dull if we had to live from one blissful moment to the other. Our wins and joys would be meaningless as there would be nothing to celebrate.
Life can be compared to two sides of a coin: joy and anger, and happiness and sadness. So, rather than getting lost while chasing happiness, live a happier life by engaging in activities that allow the flow of happiness to you. What can you do to achieve true happiness?
How to Achieve True Happiness
Instead of chasing happiness, here are better ways to achieve genuine happiness:
1. Align With Your Values
What are those things that are truly meaningful to you? What gives you a sense of purpose and feeds your passion? When you’re able to answer these questions truthfully and work towards being actively involved in what you love, then you will be gravitating towards joy and satisfaction.
2. Do What You Enjoy
Chasing happiness can leave no time to focus on anything else. Instead of hanging on to this exhausting process, get engaged in something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to something complicated. Whether it’s writing, painting, or riding a bicycle, you won’t be thinking about yourself at that moment. Instead, you’ll be fully absorbed in what you’re doing. What happens next is that you have a euphoric response where you’re doing something you genuinely love.
3. Get Engaged in Something Significant
Happiness can flow towards you when you’re making a difference in the life of others. So, how can you make a difference in your community or even among your friends? It can be as simple as being there to listen when they need it or putting a smile on someone’s face. You’ll experience that sense of satisfaction when you’re actively involved in something significant towards others.
4. Live in the Present
It’s not easy to let go of future anxieties and past regrets, but it’s something you have to do to experience genuine happiness. You can live an enjoyable life when you think more about enjoying each moment as it comes. When you feel yourself drifting away, remind yourself to “be here now.”
5. Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations
No one has a truly perfect life. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive to have a pleasant life. While doing this, you need to let go of the idea that you’re supposed to be happy all the time. There will be some not-so-pleasant moments; it comes with the territory.
However, embrace the belief that it’s perfectly okay to have an average life dotted with genuine moments of joy. So, if you’re sad, accept this emotion. If you’re happy, embrace this too. Don’t try to deny your feelings as they could eventually become toxic.
6. Take It a Step at a Time
Think about what you want and take small daily steps that will take you there. Instead of setting unrealistic goals, break them into smaller goals that you will appreciate every step of the way.
7. Separate Happiness From Your Achievements
Your happiness shouldn’t be tied to your achievements. Yes, achieving your goals comes with a deep sense of accomplishment. It’s a bolstering feeling. However, this becomes a problem when our achievements are deeply woven with how happy we feel. The absence of achievement shouldn’t be equivalent to the absence of happiness.
Instead of chasing happiness, experience true happiness by seeing what’s already there. In the words of Bertolt Brecht, “Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is right at their heels.”
You don’t have to chase happiness to get it. Instead, it involves more of seeing what you already have and appreciating it. You will notice that when you force yourself to chase happiness, it seems much harder to get it. However, when you realize that you can be happy about the smallest things, then you will be open to more colorful life.
Fulfillment follows when you live a life that is meaningful to you. So, stop chasing happiness and let it flow towards you instead.
More About Pursuing Happiness
We are given life with many opportunities to make it everything we want it to be and more. If you find that you’ve slipped into living a boring life, it’s time to take a hard look at what you’ve been doing and what you can start doing now to make it more interesting.
Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list can definitely make any day or life more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.
Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaningful) one!
1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self
Imagine being a young child. Life was never boring, was it? That’s because children harness every ounce of creativity they have in order to try new things.
What would your 7-year-old self want to do in this moment? Maybe they’d pick up a paintbrush and try to paint the landscape around them. May they would go outside and build something with random materials around the yard. Maybe they would raid the fridge and put together a dish they’ve never seen before.
Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play and use your creativity to its fullest.
2. Go Play With Kids
Speaking of little kids, if you have your own (or a niece or nephew), go play with them!
Kids are absolutely hilarious, so it’s simply impossible to be bored when you’re around them. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.
3. Play Cell Phone Roulette
You’ll need at least one buddy for this, but this is a great way to avoid a boring life. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one, and (if it feels right) call the person.
You could spark an incredible catch-up session or, at the very least, remind someone that you’re thinking of them. Neither are boring.
4. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards
This is a great part of a gratitude practice. We often forget to thank the people who do things for us, especially if we have come to expect those things. For example, have you ever thought about thanking your mom for that weekly phone call? Or thanking your sister for always sending you a homemade gift on your birthday?
Take time to think of at least 5 people you would like to say thank you to and write out a card. You could even write them out for random people in your neighborhood, like the local librarian, a teacher at your child’s school, or the accountant at your bank.
Anyone and everyone appreciates being thanked for their efforts.
5. Sign up for a Class
Nowadays, there are classes for everything. To make it as interesting as possible, try finding one that you wouldn’t normally consider doing, like salsa lessons, improv, or boxing.
Otherwise, try to find a course on something you’ve always wanted to learn, like pottery, photography, or a foreign language course.
What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people, which will add even more interest to your life!
6. Talk to Your Grandparents About Their Lives
We often underestimate how interesting the elderly are. You can rest assured that any elderly person you talk to will not have had a boring life! Take some time to talk to them and hear their interesting stories. You may even find that this motivates you to go out and find your own interesting experiences.
7. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night
Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage. If you’re not into comedy, find an open mic that focuses on reading poetry or short stories and bring your own. These groups tend to be incredibly supportive for anyone who is willing to be brave enough to get up and try.
8. Do Something for Someone Else
Showing kindness automatically makes you feel good, but doing these small acts will also help to ensure that you don’t have a boring life. Try doing one or two things each week that are outside your normal routine.
For example, you could make a batch of cookies for the mailperson or help your elderly neighbor organize one of their rooms. There are a million ways to show kindness to those around you. Tap into your creativity and find your own or use some of the ideas from the image below.
9. Start a DIY Project in Your Home
If you have your own place, there is always a project that needs to get done. Many people simply pay for someone else to do it in order to avoid the hassle, but taking on a DIY project can make a boring life much more interesting.
It doesn’t have to be super complicated. Maybe you repaint an old vase or build a spice shelf out of used pallets.
If you need ideas, you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.
10. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation
This will give you something to look forward to. One study actually found that most travelers are happiest before a vacation. Therefore, simply planning a trip will boost your mood, even if you can’t actually take the vacation right now.
Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is also fun and relaxing!
11. Go People Watching
Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops, and train stations are great for this!) and just observe.
People are infinitely interesting. Try to imagine what their lives are like, what they’re thinking, or where they’re going. You’ll never know if you’re right, but it will give you something to focus on and also help you practice empathy.
12. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before
You can try that new Moroccan restaurant down the street and pick the most interesting dish on the menu. Or, you can raid your own fridge and throw together a dish you’ve never made before.
If you’re up for a trip to the grocery store, try picking up a new fruit or veggie from the produce section. You may find a new food that you love!
You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.
If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public or join a flash mob.
14. Pick up a Book and Start Reading
Reading a good book can keep you occupied for hours. It will also transport you to a life that isn’t your own, and one that likely will be the opposite of a boring life. You’ll be amazed by what you can learn from those pages.
Pick on of these inspirational books to start reading:
15. Spend Some Time With People You Care About
Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or bring a coffee over to your parent’s place and catch up. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll avoid boredom.
16. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to
Some people are bored by museums, so if that’s you, skip to the next one. However, if you love art, history, or culture, this one is for you!
17. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want
This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?
Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then, start taking your first step to make it happen.
Now, go make your life interesting and live your dream life!