Should you pursue happiness?
Happy is only one feeling, and society falsely aims at happiness as a goal.
A lot of people want to be happy. In fact, a lot of them want to be happy constantly. Is it the appropriate goal in life?
1) Society falsely aims at happiness as a goal. The idea that modern humans should constantly be happy is destructive. We see highlights on social media. Then, it forms the idea that everyone "feels good" at a steady pace, and therefore we should too. What’s wrong if we just feel moderate?
2) Happy is only one feeling. It's okay to be angry, anxious, or scared. There's nothing wrong with feeling other emotion than happiness. Our goal is not to be constantly happy. Instead, our goal is to be able to express a wide range of emotions without suppressing or suffering.
3) Stop chasing happiness. Happiness is a byproduct of doing things that are challenging, meaningful, and worthwhile. It's better to pursue knowledge and broaden your perspective to help you make better decisions in life than to only chase to "feel good." It's better to do hard things, even if they make you vulnerable than to avoid them because you prioritize comfort.
4) If you don't have to worry about a paycheck, what would you do? Many people consider this question impractical, but they miss the point. This thought exercise helps you break from routines. This reflection question can help you think of what you want to pursue in life.
5) Try different things to understand what you like. Experiment, because you won't know what you like before you try it. I used to think I wanted to be a painter, but then I realized that I didn't enjoy the process of painting. I love looking at the final result. Trying things help us to differentiate what we think we like from what we actually like.
One idea to remember:
Our goal is to be able to express a wide range of emotions without suppressing or suffering. Happy is only one feeling among many others.
This post is part of life principles where I collect all the learnings from my life and work. As I solve problems, I often learn new things and make mistakes. I find it useful to collect them in my notes to avoid common mistakes and make better decisions in the future. If it resonates, feel free to share it with your family, friends, or your networks.
Budi Tanrim is a Senior Principal Designer at GovTech Edu—who works closely with the Indonesia Ministry of Education. You can find me on Twitter.