Dear Lovely Readers,
It seems like a polar vortex has invaded NYC, and my camera and I are safely tucked away from the bitter cold. I'd love to use my time at home as a chance to discuss an important topic—the pursuit of happiness. Most humans are on a constant pursuit of happiness, whether through means of instant gratification (food, shopping, etc.), or achievements in success, money, or status. How often do you feel, "Once I find my dream job, I'll be happy" or "If people admire my accomplishments, I'll be happy." I believe success, money, and relationships are not the origins of happiness, but the tools to help us reach happiness. The true origin of happiness comes from within yourself, and in that sense, is completely in your control.
(Photography by Takashi Matsuzaki)
One of the best personal examples I can recall was from my time at work. Each person was assigned a challenging goal for the month and I constantly felt the pressure to succeed, not only for the company goal, but for my own expectations. Sometimes I failed, and oftentimes I reached my goal a day before, or even a few hours before the deadline. Of course in that moment I felt elated and relieved. But eventually I realized—I'm only happy for a few days or hours in an entire month. Am I really going to be unhappy and stressed for the remaining 29 days of the month, 350 days of the year?
I will be the first to encourage you to have goals and be driven to accomplish. But punishing yourself with self-induced stress will not help you accomplish. In fact, excessive stress will only cause you to burn out and lose confidence in your abilities. Learn to use that pressure as a motivator to fuel you, not overwhelm you. The takeaway lesson: don't let your successes or failures determine your competence or happiness.
Happiness is not passive. It's not a light bulb that turns on or fairy dust that sprinkles onto you and determines "now you're officially happy!" It's something you actively have to work towards. You have to act yourself into feeling happy on a daily basis. That's where appreciation for what you already have, not what you're anticipating, help reach the happiness goal. The world is in a constant flux. Nothing remains forever, and you certainly can't get your time back, so I encourage you to live in the moment and appreciate what you have in the here and now.
Another factor is positive attitude. Just like you choose what shoes to wear with your outfit, you too choose your attitude. I read a beautiful passage in The Maxwell Daily Reader by John C. Maxwell that says, "I cannot always choose what happens to me, but I can always choose what happens in me. Some things in life are beyond my control. Some things are within it. My attitude in the areas beyond my control can be the difference maker."
I strongly believe that your attitude determines your outlook.
Lastly, happiness is living for yourself, and not the world to see. Outer appearances are just that—outer appearances. You might have a beaming smile on your face and seemingly everything one could want, but only you'll know if you're truly happy. You can fake it to the world, but you can't fake it to your heart.
What are your thoughts on my article, and do you find yourself struggling with these issues? Although I'm still learning how to balance my goal-oriented nature with a feeling of contentment, I genuinely hope this post shares some insights with you. Thank you for reading! And special thanks to the talented Takashi Matsuzaki for his stunning photograph (and one of my personal favorites of his work)!