Why we’re not happyPosted: April 7, 2009
We all try so hard to do the right thing, to find the right way, to be a success. We’re all working so hard–so very hard–but we don’t feel satisfied, fulfilled, happy. Why? Because we are putting in all that effort to meet some external measure of success, some model on the outside of what a good life, a successful life should look like.
I sure did. For years and years and years, I tried to be “successful” as a teacher, as a headhunter, as a consultant. And the more I tried to squeeze myself into someone else’s version of “successful” or at least “good enough,” the more miserable I became. Because I didn’t fit that model. The clothes just didn’t fit. And on some level, I knew it. (But that didn’t stop me from trying even harder. Slow learner over here.)
I started blathering about this on the page and realized there is no external model. There never was. It’s a mirage. A compilation of other people’s ideas of “success.”
In the end, there’s only my soul’s version of myself, my own picture of “success.”
What is that? Well, I think it’s nothing more or less than my purpose, my heart’s desire. That’s why the question is “What do you want?” Doesn’t that sound simple? Ricidulously simple? But it’s not. Oh lord, it’s so not simple. It’s THE question and we rarely if ever ask ourselves.
And, sorry, but the answer ain’t Fettucini Alfredo (although lord that does sound good), or a million bucks in the bank (although that sounds even better), or a new car (Lexus, if anyone wants to know), or any other thing. That’s just our materialist society pasting those images of what’s desirable in front of our eyes everywhere we look. We’ve been taught to look outside for validation, credentials, income…all of it. Even relationships somehow have to fit into the “happy family fantasy” mold.
The great gift in our global pain is that everyone, and it does seem everyone, is looking at all the “stuff” and saying, “This isn’t making me happy. In fact, it never did.” And that, I think, is a very good thing.
So what will make you happy? I don’t know. That’s the point, no one outside of you has your answer. But you do. And it’s right in front of you–or rather right inside of you. Just ask. Let your little scared self ask your wise knowing self, “Hey, what do I want, what do I really really want?”
Ask on paper, then write fast. Really really fast. Your wise self has a few surprises for you.