Pursuit of Happiness=Anxiety?
Everyone I’ve ever met has one thing in common: they desire happiness. In all of its forms, happiness is different for everyone. There’s fulfillment through accomplishment, family, personal achievement, but is this pursuit of ‘the American dream” making us more miserable in the long-run?
Duncan Riach is a very wealthy man. He made it big in Silicone Valley nearly a decade ago. In an article about the lessons he learned, Riach wrote, “I remember… realizing I had it all. I had the fancy million-dollar house… a house in another country… luxury cars that I purchased with cash… the attractive wife at home… I was highly respected… and had more money than I knew what to do with.” Even with all of that Riach still testifies, “I felt anxious and dissatisfied. On some level, my striving for success had been driven by a belief that my deep suffering would go away when I had enough wealth.”
Riach says that wealth doesn’t create happiness, and he believes it creates anxiety and complicates life to a point where happiness may not be possible.
Albert Einstein’s Theory of Happiness suggests “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” If this is true, it means that the more we have, the less secure we feel, and the less we have, the happier we are because there’s less worry. Riach’s statements verify that from the standpoint of one incredibly wealthy man, “It’s important to heal the wound that makes you feel valuable based on what you have. I believed I was fundamentally worthless. Through a combination of psychotherapy, coaching, and developing authentic friendships… I came to understand that I have a rich intrinsic value.”
Researchers have found the more someone seeks and values happiness, the less happiness they experience because their expectations aren’t met. They end up disappointed in the end. Psychologist Martin Seligman studies the psychology of happiness and human flourishing. He suggests there are three areas where we can find happiness: the Pleasant Life, the Good Life, and The Meaningful Life.
The Pleasant Life is one in which we take time to smell the roses; savoring the experience of living in whatever our situation. The Good Life involves discovering our unique virtues and putting our purpose into action to enhance our existence. The Meaningful Life gives us a “deep sense of fulfillment by employing our strengths for something greater than ourselves.”
When discussing happiness and life purpose with my coaching clients, many times they don’t know where to start. The idea is such a big one that the fear of failure cripples them from even getting off the starting line. Through exploration of self-using several techniques, through our sessions, we get to a place of finding that path to finding their authentic sense of self. That’s where the magic happens. Instead of pursuing happiness outside of themselves, we dive within to dig under the layers of expectations our society has conditioned us to believe we must meet; there we discover something hidden, but which was there all along. Dive in – contact me for an exploratory session on me by clicking here.