Why I Stopped Chasing Happiness

“Some people CHASE happiness. And some people CHOOSE happiness…”

– Robert Holden

I have a confession to make. I have made the most amateur mistake you can make when following your dreams. The one that even your grandma could have predicted. Yeah, it’s pretty embarrassing.

Yet I’m going to open up and be vulnerable here, because I think there’s something you can learn from it.

About 9 month ago I woke up to the possibilities of life. Before that I had been just another college student, aimlessly walking through life, hoping that it would all magically fall together one day. Like most college students, I was miserable inside. When I allowed myself to sit in silence I could feel that I was wasting my time, that I wasn’t living life like it was meant to be.

During one of those silent moments I had a huge realization: we are responsible for our own happiness. It’s nobody’s job to make us happy or create the life we want for us. There’s nobody else we can blame, not our parents, not society and not that guy who broke our heart in 8th grade. It’s our own responsibility to make sure that our life is worth living. It’s our responsibility to take care of our happiness.

I had never experienced such clarity before. Luckily I decided to let action follow. I identified the biggest problem area of my life; money and career. I was a broke college student with no idea what I wanted to do after graduation.

So I put in the time and figured out what I wanted to become: a blogger, a life coach, an author. I began working towards these goals and I made progress. I launched my blog, I switched to psychology in college and started writing.

But then I collapsed. I felt burnt out. Toasted. Overwhelmed. I started doubting myself. All I wanted to do was crawl in bed and pretend I didn’t have stuff to do.

After the initial moment of clarity, I had mostly focused on the gap between the life I was living and the life I wanted to live. I had been trying to close that gap as fast as possible. I believed that reaching my dreams was the only thing that could bring me happiness. I thought that after I had achieved what I wanted, I would finally be allowed to stop and breathe and enjoy the moment.

I was chasing happiness. And that’s no a very smart thing to do.

Happiness is always there with us in the moment. We just have to make the shift and choose to see it. When you’re at the very beginning of the journey to creating a life you love, things can get overwhelming pretty quickly. Once you’ve taken responsibility for your life it’s easy to start blaming yourself. We beat ourselves up and try to force ourselves to work harder, because we feel like a failure the minute we stop and look around.

But what is the purpose of this kind of lifestyle? Why did we choose to live our dreams in the first place? Because we wanted to be happy. But being happy doesn’t come from the things we achieve or how far we’ve come. It comes from being present and enjoying the journey.

If you think about it, why should you be more able to experience happiness once you’ve reached your goals? If all you’ve ever done was push yourself harder to succeed, it will be almost impossible to be still and worship the moment. If you can’t appreciate the journey, then you won’t appreciate your successes either.

After I had understood this missing piece of wisdom I made happiness my #1 priority. I’m now trying to see life as one big experiment on happiness. Sure, I’m still working really hard towards my dreams. But I’m not losing myself in the process anymore. I’ve learned to appreciate what I have now while I’m reaching for my dreams.

Sometimes it’s a little mind shift that can make all the difference. So be still, breathe and reconnect with yourself.

So be still again. Grab your journal and ask yourself how you’re feeling today, and why you’re feeling this way. Try to remember why you went on this journey in the first place. Then make it a habit to choose happiness in the now while still working towards your dreams. Understand that this is a long term vision and that you can’t deprive yourself from all happiness until you’re living the dream. Because if you want to, you can be living it now.

Sometimes a small mind shift, one little realization can make all the difference.

How about you? Have you been chasing happiness? Can you be still for a moment, reconnect with yourself and focus on happiness from now on?

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