Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness

Remember we all have the right to pursue happiness. Ben Franklin used to quip we have to catch it on our own. What makes you happy? Some people think the perfect relationship will make them happy. Boy, are they in for a disappointment. Sometimes I like to listen to the excuses people use for divorce such as wanting to exercise other options, or that they grew apart. You seldom hear a person say, “he didn’t make me happy,” but it is the underlying reason for the divorce.

Recognize first that the wonderful fleeting euphoria of falling in love or your team winning the Superbowl vanishes fast. Most women imagine a grandiose wedding where everything is perfect. In their effort to create it, they pretty much destroy everyone else’s happiness and peace of mind. Many major fights between the happy couple start on the honeymoon. This comes from having outsized expectations, maybe from watching too many celebrity weddings.

If you ever just peoplewatch? You’ll find most people don’t look happy. They look irritated or plain tired. Not too surprising, because Americans are quick to tell you what’s wrong from their job to the economy. Ironically, people in isolated countries who have live impoverished lives have more happiness. Part of the reason is they have no television set to watch people who have more than they do. Without television, there are no shows about lavish parties, or designer clothes. The only people they can compare themselves to, is their neighbors who also live in shacks.

So what makes people happy? Some of it is genetics, but not all. A small part of it is environment. If you’ve left a workplace with a hostile atmosphere, you probably felt immensely lighter. Winning the lottery or getting married to your true love has a minuscule impact on your happiness. You’re happy for a while, but you adjust. Being a millionaire or married is no longer exciting because it is something you already are, and comes with its own problems. This explains people divorcing or dropping perfectly nice individuals.

While taking college classes, my project partner was a woman contemplating divorce. She explained to me that her husband was a good father and provider. He also helped around the house. She showed me a picture of a fit, smiling man, but she explained with a shrug the magic wasn’t there after ten years. The magic she referred to was the uncertainty of a new relationship, not knowing what each day would bring. The thrill of balancing on the precarious edge of attraction and having that attraction returned. Did her husband quit loving her? It sounded like he was a prince among men, but her assurance of his love made him no longer exciting to his novelty-seeking wife.

We run the risk of being unhappy when we expect other people to make us happy. No doubt, unhappy, whining people can bring us down. Frankly, moody guys suck. You grow impatient trying to cheer them up and convince them that their life isn’t as bad as they think it is. People want to be around happy people. Ever notice bars and restaurants have happy hours as opposed to semi-depressed moments. Alcohol isn’t the secret answer to happiness either.

Never expect happiness to come in an object. Many people buy expensive houses and cars in an effort to raise their social status. No matter what the commercials have told you no one really cares what type of car you have. People who measure their happiness by things are consistently unhappy because they want more and more things. It is a vicious cycle

Find something you love to do. It could be a hobby or a job. This will allow you to find personal fulfillment. Do something for others from working in a soup kitchen to volunteering at a nursing home. Make a gratitude journal listing everything you have to be grateful for, from an education to hands that work. You have a lot more going for you than you think. These three things will help bump your happiness level up.

How does this affect your dating life? You will attract happier people because like tends to attract like, which may make you think about your previous dates. You are not obligated to date people who bring your energy level down either. If you are doing what makes you happy then the success of a date isn’t as important, which ironically allows you to loosen up and be more entertaining. Happiness is well within your reach.


  1. Love? Yes, you could get every single thing working your way. Just let your self fall into it and never let distance be the factor that would ruin your relationships.

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    1. Thanks Jack for commenting. The secret to happiness is being aware and grateful for everything that is right in your life.