Guest post by Debbie LaChusa
I’ve learned the pursuit of happiness can be just as much of
a detractor from true happiness as too much focus on money and success.
According to the dictionary, “pursuit” means an effort to secure or
attain. That means we don’t currently possess the object of our pursuit.
In the case of happiness, pursuit implies that we believe we have to
achieve or obtain something to be happy. But the truth is, we don’t.
I realized that during my quest for success I was considerably more
focused on doing all the things I believed would make me happy than I
was on just being happy. As a result, I often sacrificed
current happiness for the hope of future happiness. The problem with
that is, often, what we believe will make us happy, doesn’t. It’s simply
the way our minds, memories, and imaginations work.
Additionally, somewhere between childhood and adulthood, many of us
lose our ability to find happiness in life’s simple pleasures. Granted,
life is more complicated for adults. We have responsibilities such as
jobs, bills, and children. But, far too often, we let these
responsibilities squelch our innate happiness. We begin to believe that
happiness, or the lack of it, is based on what we do or what we have. We
recognize that we experience joy when we get a promotion, a new car, or
a new client, and we begin attributing happiness to these things.
Often, without realizing it, we begin comparing ourselves to others.
They seem happy and have things we don’t—therefore, we assume if only
we had what they have, we’d be happy too. We become so wrapped up in
what we don’t have or don’t like about our lives that we begin believing
we can’t be happy until we get that promotion, new car, or new client. Unfortunately, accomplishments, material possessions, and money can make us happy, but that happiness usually doesn’t last.
If you’ve gotten caught up in the materialistic pursuit of happiness, how do you get back on track?
How do you start simply being happy? First, you realize the
past is the past and you can’t change it. There is no sense beating
yourself up over decisions you cannot undue. Instead, make a decision to
begin living your life differently from this point on and start taking
steps to right your ship. You can continue to have a vision for the
future, set goals, and pursue dreams, just make sure you’re enjoying the
In his book The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt writes
about the fleeting nature of happiness derived from achieving goals. He
refers to a concept he calls “the progress principle,” which suggests we
gain more pleasure from the pursuit of our goals than the actual
achievement of them. According to Haidt, when we constantly dream about
how happy we’ll be when we achieve a goal, once we finally do succeed,
the euphoria is very often fleeting. Because of this, we strive to
recreate that euphoria by immediately setting a new goal. Therefore, if
we want to be happy and not just chasing fleeting spurts of happiness,
our focus should be on enjoying the journey to our goals.
If you’re a goal setter, ask yourself if you are pursuing your goals
for the happiness you expect to feel when you achieve them or if the
pursuit itself brings you happiness. If the pursuit doesn’t make you
happy, reconsider how important the goals are. Ask yourself why you are
pursuing them. If your goals are not about happiness but are important
to you, pursue them if you choose. The key is to be aware of what you’re
doing and why.
Adapted from Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness by Debbie LaChusa.
About Debbie LaChusa
Despite becoming a vice president in her thirties, building three
successful businesses in her forties, becoming a millionaire, speaking
internationally, and sharing the stage with celebrity teachers from The Secret,
Debbie LaChusa never felt satisfied. After spending seven years and
$200,000 constantly trying to achieve more, she realized she had become spellbound.
She looked around and saw she wasn’t alone, prompting her to embark on a
yearlong investigative journey to understand why, so she could heal
herself and help others. Breaking The Spell is the result of that journey. You can learn more about the book and read the first chapter for free at www.BreakingTheSpellBook.com