Wait… what?!?! Am I the only one who feels like there is so much content out there lately about how to become happy? With self-care becoming so such a movement (which is awesome!), it seems like there are just so many new things to try and incorporate to make yourself happier. Ie. take a bubble bath, read a book, treat yourself, etc.
Earlier in the week, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Ultimate Health Podcast, and they were interviewing Mark Manson. He is the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Everything is F*cked. Neither of which I have read, but Kenny just brought home Everything is F*cked for me so I am excited to read it once I finish the book I’m working on now! Anyway… on this podcast I heard a really thought provoking idea which was to stop trying to reach that goal of happiness, and instead, try to work toward meaning in your life. Mark Manson was talking about a study where people were asked to rank their happiness over a period of time on a scale of 1-10. The study found that people generally ranked themselves at a 7 on the scale. If something great happened, they might be a 9 or 10 for a few days, but then would return to ranking as a 7. Same with a negative event. So his theory was that no matter what exactly we do everyday, most people are generally pretty happy. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to put so much effort into increasing our ‘happiness’ when we all float through life being pretty happy, regardless. Instead, we should strive to fill our lives with something that we find truly meaningful.
You could watch 5 years of your life go by in a job you tolerate, having an amazing self-care routine, meditating, taking tons of bubble baths, reading all the best books, and treating yourself often. But after that time frame is over, will you feel happy about what you’ve accomplished? Will you feel satisfied with your life? Don’t get me wrong – these things are still important too! But are they actually meaningful to you?
This totally struck a cord with me. I have had times where I’ve been unhappy in a certain job or situation, but I feel like I am scared to move onto other opportunities because I question myself – “what if that won’t make me feel happy either?” or “what if I go to school for this for 4 years and then it still doesn’t make me feel happy?”. Its like I have put pressure on myself to find happiness… The idea that I should be striving for meaning instead brings so much clarity! When considering a new opportunity, it might make more sense to look at it as a whole, long-term piece of your life rather than looking at how happy you might feel in that role on any given day. Is it meaningful to you? Will you be proud of what you’ve accomplished?
Anyway…these are just my thoughts of the day! I have been thinking about making some life changes lately.. ie. looking for a new job or going back to school and I really thought that this concept of striving for meaning rather than happiness was super helpful!! Thanks for reading!