FINDING HAPPINESS – WHY ARE WE NEVER HAPPY?
It’s mid-morning, and the August’s heat in Italy is at full blast.
I don’t remember last time I spent so much time in my own country, but I have to admit, I am enjoying it. Sometimes you need to go back to your roots to understand who you are.
Sitting at a lovely wooden table, under a classic Italian style porch made by living stone, I am brainstorming a few ideas for this new article to publish in the Life Coaching Corner of The Content Wolf Magazine.
A few steps from me, I have a nice view of a luxurious swimming pool surrounded by a line of white sunbeds and tall palm trees.
The sound of a small artificial waterfall dripping water into the swimming pool works as a relaxing noise well mixed with the summer hits playing through the audio speakers located not far from me.
It’s a beautiful and peaceful place here. Families, young teenagers and happy couples come to enjoy their holiday time, and even though the COVID-19 pandemic is still outside our doorstep, threatening us, in this place, there is a genuine sense of happiness.
Coming here, motivates and inspires me to do what I love the most. Writing!
WE ALL WANT MORE!
We all want more of something, more money, more health, more love, more excitement, bigger houses and better vacations. Some of us want more security, more affection, or just more confidence. The list of desires is endless!
However, Arthur Schopenhauer stated a profound truth,
“Man is never happy, but spends his whole life in striving after something which he thinks will make him so.”
The belief that governs our lives since the birth of the world is that.
“Happiness is the result of conditions that are met”.
How many times have you said: “When I will be able to BE, DO or HAVE [FILL THE BLANK] then, and only then, I will be finally happy.”
If you look closely at yourself and your life, I am sure you will find something or someone that you believe could be the definitive source of happiness for you once you have it.
No matter if it’s a different job, a spouse, a slimmer body, a better financial situation, a specific skill you think you need -your happiness is related to the achievement of those things.
This conditional approach to happiness is the reason why we live in a world governed by stress, unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
ARE YOU FOLLOWING THE CROWD?
Here is a little story..
Anna works here, she is a gorgeous young lady, with one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen.
She is always running around keeping the venue well organised and efficient, and despite the Summer heat and demanding customers, she still looks relaxed. She always looks happy.
She was passing by my table, and with what I sensed to be a genuine level of curiosity, she asked: “Antonio, what are you writing about today?”
As I am always happy to exchange ideas and to receive feedback on what I write, I’ve quickly replied: “Well, Anna, I am working on a new article about ‘happiness’ and on the reasons why people never seem truly happy and satisfied in life.”
She looked at me first a bit surprised at the depth of the topic I was exploring, then as someone pensive that understands the issue, but at the same time would like to have a solution.
I took advantage of what seemed to be a perfect moment to receive an honest opinion, and quickly I said: “I think you could probably help me with this article. So, tell me, what do you think are the reasons why we’re never fully satisfied and happy?”
Without a second of hesitation, she replied:
“Because of what we see around us and mostly on the internet through social media. It feels like there are predefined standards that we must reach if we want to be truly happy in life.”
Nowadays, the influence of society in our lives is so strong that, although we know it is not right, we feel manipulated to follow the crowd.
“Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it.” – Rick Warren
DRIVING FORCES: PAIN AND PLEASURE
Angels and demons, good and evil, right and wrong. Although they are opposite, they are still parts of the same coin, and as imperfect as we are as human beings, we all have inside of us both parts.
However, the choices that we make are often not driven by our knowledge of what is right or wrong, but, more by our unquestionable and robust desire to gain some emotional, physical or material pleasure and at the same time avoiding at any cost pain.
In other words, pain and pleasure are the only two driving forces behind everything you do, or you don’t do in life.
Behind every decision you make, and every action you take, there is always the main objective of gaining pleasure and avoiding pain. This concept is commonly known as the ‘Pleasure Principle‘ attributed to Sigmund Freud.
Look, for example at all the commercials bombarding us every second on the Internet, TV, radio, billboards on the street and shop windows. The main objective of marketing and advertising is to drive consumers to make impulse shopping decisions, and they do that through a straightforward and effective message.
“If you buy, use or experience our products, then you will gain a benefit that otherwise you won’t be able to gain. Often this message is also attached to a “quick, easy and pain-free” process.”
Now, reflecting on the way we live our lives and the powerful influence we have from the outside world, it’s pretty obvious why we all live mostly unsatisfied, with an urge of wanting to be, do and have more, more and more.
Of course, there is nothing wrong in wanting a better life, to have dreams and goals to realise and achieve, but the questions we should all ask ourselves should be:
“Are all the dreams, goals and desires I have coming directly from my own heart and mind, or are coming from the influence I got from society?.”
In a few words: Are you choosing for yourself how your happy life should look like, feel like and sound like? Or are you leaving what you see, feel and experience into the world choosing for you?
I know those are not easy questions to answer but they are necessary if you want to start to create your happiness and not let someone or something else make it for you.
IT’S TIME TO STEP BACK
“What do you think should happen to make people stop chasing this elusive happiness and live a more content life?”
Well, she said: “it’s not an easy answer, but I think we should all take a step back. We should pause for a moment and review our definition of happiness. We should stop chasing what society wants us to chase and focus only on our real definition of happiness and then work hard to realise it according to who we are not how they want us to be.”
Yes, and that’s precisely the point of this article!
Nowadays, we are chasing fake ideals of happiness and perfection. It’s a run we will never be able to win because at the end it’s a phoney run where there are no runners, no winners and no praise to win.
I suffered from the disease of never feeling satisfied and happy for most of my life. It was never enough, and never good enough.
It was never the right job, never the right relationship, never the good money. I was never satisfied with who I was mentally, professionally and physically.
“When I have…, when I go…, when I become…then I will be happy.”
And even when I was able to achieve the object of my desires, still, I was not satisfied; yet, it was not enough, so that the run was starting again.
As Anna said, I had to take a big step back and review my definition of happiness. Then sadly realise that what I thought was going to make me finally happy was only the conditioning from the external world.
I learned to genuinely believe that despite the hurdles, the difficulties and the pain that we all have to face in life, as well despite what the society wants us to think, there is a way to live a much more satisfying and content life.
We are all in charge of our lives, in control of our choices and our decisions. Therefore, if you really want, you can create your happiness now, from where you are!
Life is a journey, and it’s possible to feel more happy and satisfied even when the journey is bumpy and full of road works and obstacles.
HAPPINESS IS IN THE JOURNEY
Buddha says: “There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path“, and it’s on my path, that I am learning skills that are helping me to be more happy and satisfied with myself and my life and that through this article I want to share with all of you.
- Set some time to sit down and brainstorm what the word “happiness” means for you. Without overthinking, be brutally honest and authentic to yourself. Aim to create your REAL definition of “Happiness”.
- Stop comparing yourself with others. Please stop it NOW! You have been created as a unique individual. Nobody on this planet is like you—nobody else as your personality, your abilities and your talents. As your DNA is unique also, your brain is unique. Because someone else is, does or have something, doesn’t mean that you have to be, do, or have the same! Stop trying to live your life as to be a cheap copy of someone else, and be courageous enough to live your life as a unique and original masterpiece.
- Live your life always in the PRESENT. Remember that this precise moment is all you have. Use your past only as a learning tool to grow, improve and possibly avoid the same mistakes you’ve made. Don’t be worried about the future as the future is uncertain.
- Practice gratitude! Learn to be more thankful about what you have and who you are. Gratitude is not accepting everything as it is; instead, it means to appreciate the positive aspects of your current situation, and use those as a starting point to create something bigger, better and more significant.
THE POWER OF “THANK YOU”
The sun is going down, and the Summer’s heat finally lost a bit of its power. While I am putting my stuff in my backpack, people also have begun to leave this beautiful venue.
Anna has also finished her shift at work, and she is ready to leave. On the way out, we exchange a genuine smile.
I thank her for answering my difficult questions and giving me great insights to complete this article. She thanked me because my questions made her think differently and more deeply.
We both had an impact on someone else’s life today, and we both decided to be thankful for that.
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton
If you want to experience the power of life coaching, this is the right moment to do so!
You can book a free 1-to-1 coaching session with me at