Why happiness is overrated

A few days before my birthday last year, I was chatting with my sister about what I wanted to get out of the second half of my twenties. I was turning 25 and absolutely thrilled about it.

I told her what I thought at the time was perfectly sensible; “I just want to be happy this year!”

Every once in awhile you get a bit of advice that will stick with you long term even if the giver of said advice doesn’t intend to say anything profound.

My sister responded by affirming me and encouraged me to pursue peace instead of happiness.

Most of us are familiar with the “happiness is a journey not a destination” ideology. But the true meaning behind this message doesn’t really stick with us.

I define peace as being #undisturbed-- Happiness says “I feel content because of my circumstances” Peace says, “I feel content despite my circumstances”

Peace gives us the stamina to weather the tide. Happiness gets blown away with the storm.

The unknown is coming. Everyday, it gets up out of the bed with us-- and is often better prepared for the day than we are. This notion does not have to be discouraging! When we have peace we are not easily influenced by our circumstances. We accept what comes, knowing it will pass and staying ready to learn from the positive and the negative.

Challenges will come. Good times will come. And both will also pass. Having peace helps you stay even keeled through all the peaks and valleys that life inevitably passes out.

I am not entirely there. I often get trapped into thinking happiness alone is the answer. In the meantime, I am keeping a few things in mind:

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1. Remember that this too shall pass

Whenever someone tells me “the bad times don’t last forever” “wait it out” “this too shall pass”  I always think “What about right now? What am I supposed to do while it is passing?!”

This can be tough to master. The frustration is real! Practicing the act of reminding ourselves that bad times won’t (and can’t) last forever, will eventually flip a switch in our minds permanently. Eventually, we won’t just see the light at the end of the tunnel, we can keep it there.

2.Focus in on the lesson

Another “easier said than done” (I never said this stuff was simple)  but digging out the lesson in both good and bad experiences helps us get loaded up for the next round of challenges. The more we focus on the lesson, the more we see how our experiences are connected and build on each other.

3. Tap into the Divine

I have a very specific type of faith. I believe in God, and I identify as a Christian, but I also believe in me.  We have access to a multitude of practices and tools that can aid in us finding, guarding, and keeping our peace. For me that looks like journaling, meditating and exercising as often as I can. For you it might be working with crystals, prayer or another type of ritual. Whatever it is, use the both the power from the most high and the power from within.

Remember, I came to this realization a year ago, and to be totally transparent I struggle with this idea every single day. It takes intentionality and practice. No pressure to make changes over night.

Be well