Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Rethink What Brings You Happiness

If your physical needs are met and you feel safe, the biggest thing that stands in the way of fulfilment is your thinking. People like to believe we need certain things before we can happy.

I’ll be happy if… I get a meaningful job… if I earn more money… if I find my sense of purpose… if I find a loving partner to share my life with.

But this way of thinking is all wrong. If anything, it sets you up for unhappiness.

Not only does reaching certain milestones offer you far less lasting happiness than we think—studies show we tend to bounce back to our baseline no matter how wonderful or upsetting an event.

Basing your well-being off of circumstances you have little control over is plain dumb.

It’s similar to flipping a coin and saying you’ll only be happy if it comes up tails.

A strategy that not even Dr. Oz would support.

And the last problem with listening to our brain, we’re actually notoriously bad at identifying what will make us happy.

My favourite example of this is romantic love.

How many times in your life have you completely obsessed over someone, thinking that if you could just get that person to feel the same way about you as you do about them, that you’d be blissfully happy?

Just imagine all the late-night kissing and cuddling on the couch. Surprise getaways to a lake cabin in the woods. And having someone around to save you from choking to death on a hotdog and dying alone in your apartment.

A romantic companion would absolutely increase your happiness at these times. But something crucial has been left out.

Because what has that sneaky walnut in our skull done during all these fantasies?

It focused on the good times and nimbly left out the bad ones.

And adding someone significant to your solo life experience will undeniably bring some difficulties to your usual. You’ll have to deal with all sorts of upsetting and annoying things. 

Such as, but not limited to: blanket hogging, empty food containers in the cupboard, off-key singing in the shower, arguments over how to load the dishwasher, and discovering the ice cream is gone because they ate the last scoop without offering to share.

Unlike our mind likes to suggest, it’s not all cotton candy and smiles.

To sum up what we’ve discovered so far:

  • No matter the achievement, our happiness always returns back to normal.
  • Relying on serendipity to do what you want is an unreliable strategy.
  • We generally have bad ideas about what makes us happy.

So how do you make yourself happy?

By rethinking your happiness goals.

What would you do if you achieved your objective? How would it change your life? And what can you do to get some of those desired effects now?

If you crave validation and feeling like you matter, consider doing volunteer work.
If you don’t want to experience beautiful moments by yourself, bring someone else.
If you desire physical affection, adopt a pet or help take care of your local farm animals.

The more connected you feel to yourself and what you can give to the world, the more happy and fulfilled you’ll be.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach