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Why is happiness so hard to achieve?

Happiness can feel like this unattainable goal that everyone seems to be striving for but few actually achieve. Why is happiness so hard to achieve? What is the secret? What am I doing wrong?

In our society and culture we tend to see happiness as an achievement. We have this formula for happiness that goes something like this:

Work Hard → Be Successful → Be Happy

This is flawed and wrong. For many they find they simply struggle to work hard in the first place. Others work extremely hard with little to no “success”. Still others find that they work hard, are very successful, and yet still are not happy. This formula is flawed and wrong because it makes happiness a goal. The problem is when we get to the goal; there will always be another goal that needs to be achieved.

For example the thought of the student, “once I get my degree life will be so much better and I’ll be happy”. The problem with this thought is once you graduate you realize, “now I have to get a job, then I’ll be happy”. Then you get a job and realize, “I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, once I get promoted then I’ll be happy”. Then inevitably there will be something after that like buying a house, getting a second job, or making enough to afford another car, etc. As you see from this example we continue to push happiness off because there is always another goal of success to be achieved. So if happiness only comes when we achieve a goal then happiness only lasts the brief moment between accomplishing this goal and the time it takes us to realize we need a new goal.

It’s time to learn the true formula for happiness it looks like this:

Be Happy While → Working Hard → and Striving for Success

Happiness is a state of being, it is a choice. We must choose to be happy in the moment, while working on our goals, and we can also have happiness when the goal is achieved. Joy is in the journey, not in the outcome. The point is that happiness is not a result of our environment, circumstances, or luck, but rather happiness is a choice.

I know from experience that choosing to be happy even when life is hard or stressful is powerful. It makes me better at coping with stress; it fills me with hope, and gives me energy to continue to work hard at life. Like anything else, choosing to be happy is a skill. And the only way to develop a skill is to put in into practice. The more we exercise our ability to choose happiness the stronger it will become and the happier we will be. No matter where you are at in life, choose to be happy now; life is too good to choose anything else!

Author: Tycen Sigler, CSW

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