Laboring for Happiness

Any result worth achieving takes focus, discipline, and sustained concentration toward the desired end. How many goals are met without determination, dedication, and devotion of time? Think of the effort that goes into becoming fit, getting a degree, buying a house, being promoted, starting a business, painting a masterpiece, learning a new skill. These are not accomplishments that are met with a few brief moments of casual participation or by simply going through the motions and nor do they happen over night.

These are goals that become successful by applying ourselves constantly day after day, week after week, year after year. Along the path to such success we meet setbacks, we deal with discouragement – possibly even abandoning our pursuit for a brief moment, we doubt ourselves, we reevaluate our strategies and sometimes even reevaluate our goals. But in the end we come to understand that by maintaining our desire, our commitment to our goal, and by being adaptable – we finally achieve that for which we set out.

Furthermore, these goals we receive do not persist for eternity. They are fully revocable if we do not strive to continuously maintain our place. Sound a bit frustrating doesn’t it? It is. There are times where I wish my life was like a video game and I could simply reach a check point and know that no matter what happens thereafter, I cannot regress beyond a certain point. This is not the case, as the universe is, always has, and always will be subject to change. But why should we let that deter us from dedicating ourselves towards the pursuit of higher aims?

Why should the amount of effort, labor, focus, and determination required for any worthy goal be any different for happiness – perhaps the most worthwhile goal of all. I am of the opinion that happiness is or at least should be the greatest focus in all of one’s life. Happiness is the event horizon from which all other goals or pursuits are born. When one focuses on and obtains happiness – all else that arises is good, pleasing, and beneficial for not just the individual but for all that are impacted by the individual – that is to say the whole world.

The biggest gap in this argument I present is the notion that happiness is a state of being rather than a state of doing. This understanding is prevalent in Eastern religions and philosophies such as Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism where the state of happiness is described more as a something that one learns to experience rather than the dominant idea in Western ideology where happiness is a state to be attained through effort, struggle, and achievement.

This is not the first nor will it be the last time this blog raises self-contradicting notions or appears hypocritical. Creating a universally accepted definition of happiness is near impossible, and even more impossible is creating a uniform plan of how it ought to be found, attained, realized, or experienced. Ultimately every individual is responsible for coming to know what happiness is to them, and thus it is the individual who is also responsible for discovering how they may experience happiness as they understand it. This blog has never been about giving definitive answers but merely aims to share knowledge, research, information, and ideas – giving people the tools they need to become happier. The notion that happiness is something to be relentlessly pursued, as this particular post suggest, naturally contradicts other posts focusing on far-Eastern philosophical suggestions, but given the indefinable nature of happiness – this particular concept presented here may find greater resonance with certain individuals, especially those raised in Western Judeo-Christian cultures.

Adopting for this post at least the notion that happiness is a state obtained through pursuit and effort, and that once created is one worth fighting to maintain, we must remain conscious of the fact that the obtainment of happiness will not be easy. Just as you can lose 20 pounds through proper discipline around eating, training, and more – you can just as easily gain the 20 pounds back and then some if you abandon the habits that found you success in the first place. The same is true of our goal for happiness. It can be a major pain in the ass to adopt habits, lifestyle modifications, behaviors, and thoughts that promote happiness. There will be times when it feels futile, where you get frustrated by your apparent lack of progress – I had such a moment just the other night. But our past success in other areas has taught us: 1) the desired result is just over the horizon if we keep pushing forward and 2) the pursuit of a noble aim is in of itself a goal worth attaining.

Understand the value of happiness as a goal worth dedicating oneself towards. Know that you will face countless setbacks, that your path will rarely be straight and easy, that you will struggle, and that it will seem at times hopeless. But also remember that just as anything worth achieving in life requires effort – so too does happiness, and that if you can remain steadfast in your aim, you will realize for what you long.

Keep chopping away at your goals

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