Is Happiness really the best option?

It feels like the whole world is obsessed with Happy, except me.

A while ago, I made the conscious decision to give up the pursuit of happiness. I realized it was more important to strive for meaning, than happiness. This change of direction has made me focus on life in a new way.

Giving up on happiness is not as depressing as it sounds.

From everything I have read, much of being happy depends on being present in the moment. Unfortunately, for me, when I try to be in the moment, I often confuse it with live for the moment — they seem closely linked to me!

So, if I’m only being, and not doing enough, I’m focusing too much on the here and now, and not thinking about consequences at all. I’m free from the constraint of future repercussions by being so in the moment. I find these experiences of happy flippant and transitory.

Lots of things that seem to make me happy when I’m choosing them, do nothing for my long-term personal growth and many of them are not even good for me. Often they lead toward selfish behavior as well.

When I’m in the right now of things, it’s easy to give into any moment’s desire:

The extra glass of wine seems like such a good idea, at the time.

Eating a burger for lunch because, why not? I should enjoy myself!

Blowing off steam by ranting or gossiping seems to be such an instant stress relief.

And when I fully embrace the It’s all about what makes me happy and If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad notions, I become careless with myself.

We’ve been told to: go with the flow; see where it takes you; trust your feelings; regret is worse than what if; just be… but how? By not thinking too much?

Do you really think it’s worse to not know, than to deeply regret a decision? Are you the I regret nothing because it got me where I am today type personality?

My friend, you probably would have got here a lot quicker if you had stropped distracting yourself with your dumb decisions and weak choices. Does that thought make you annoyed, unhappy? Okay, tell yourself anything to make you happy for a bit. How about…

… YOLO: You only live once! So do whatever you want! Here’s an idea I’m more interested in: how about doing right to your one and only life? Is it really too boring, or not fun, hence won’t make you happy? Aren’t there more important things?

When I’m squeezing into my bikini because I’ve been over-indulgent and now feel insecure, or I’m hung-over and feeling guilty about missing a full day of life by lying on the couch, or my whatever transient happiness has worn off and I’ve run out of quick fixes to make it come back… it’s time I get real and ask myself:

Is being happy really the best option for you?

Being happy is not consequence-free. Nor is it a permanent state. I’m not saying that everything that makes us happy is bad for us — of course not! Healthy happy choices are completely beneficial. What I’m saying is, don’t blanket Happy over quick fixes.

It’s like saying, All carbs are bad — understand what a carb is before you decide if it means only bread and biscuits.
There is good (progressive) and bad (distracting) happiness, short-term and long-term happiness, etc…. not just Happy. As with every decision, you need to be conscious in order to tap into truth and then select your own stream of happiness.

Trying to be happy is a waste of your time.

Stop it. Instead:

Focus on the productive progression of your purpose, from Happy to making things Happen. Strive for happ(en)ess. Be a human doing, whenever some action is called for.

Check your premises
Strive for personal growth
Challenge yourself, physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually
Make positive choices, and most importantly
Experience life — do not distract yourself from it!
Release the fragile bluebird of happiness, and allow it to visit when it chooses. You’ll feel far more relaxed and able to take each day as it comes. You stop waiting for something. The wonderful result of this conscious decision is: when you stop trying so hard to capture the elusive Happy, you become, what I can only describe as… well, happy.

By no longer making it your life’s goal, happiness becomes a side effect of growth.


I wrote this piece after I had moved from Durban to Cape Town last year. It’s where I first used the term “Human Doing” which as since become a book I’ve written and my general life philosophy.