4 September 2012

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Do what makes you happy?

I’ve seen motivational images declaring “Do what makes you happy” everywhere the last few days. Which left me wondering: Will doing what makes you happy now really make you happy in the long run?

I’m not being cynical; I think there’s a difference between happiness and contentment. Happiness is short-lived and it’s a passing emotion. Therefore, to be happy all the time you need to constantly work for it by doing what makes you happy in the now.

I think what most of us really want is to be content. This is a peaceful state of mind. It might slip from time to time, but for the most part you are happy with your life because you are grateful and you know you are on the right path. It’s not the kind of happiness that you have to focus on achieving every day. The real achievement here is staying in the present and staying on course. If you do these two things, you will become grateful for the life you have and find that everything you need finds you.

Focussing on doing what makes you happy sounds like an awful lot of effort. It implies a lot of “doing” and not “being” - of searching and not being content with what you have in this moment. If buying lots of shoes makes you happy, that’s fine, but it’s a short-lived happiness and you cannot expect to be content if you base the value of your life on material things. Most of us can’t afford this either and over-spending can lead to feelings of guilt, having failed yourself financially and being too ashamed to apply for debt management.

Where I do agree with the sentiment of doing what makes you happy is when it comes to sticking to your guns in the face of adversity. Sometimes doing what is right in the eyes of others or what you think is socially acceptable is very far removed from what you need to be content.

Maybe we should change it to “stick to what makes you happy”. I also fell like making one that says “be grateful, be present, be content”. What do you think?

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