Happiness is not the ultimate indicator of success

happiness

image credit: mona eendra

“Do what makes you happy.”

“You deserve to be happy.”

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”

“Happiness is the highest level of success.”

Spend less than five minutes on the internet or social media and you’re bound to run across a similar quote or thought process that happiness is the Nobel Peace Prize of human achievement.

And it’s hard to argue against being happy.

Who doesn’t want to be happy? Who willingly signs up to live a life overflowing with sadness and misery?

Yet I believe happiness is a terrible way to measure our success and what we should be doing in life.

 

Life is an emotional roller coaster

After leaving behind the traditional 9-to-5 cubicle career and deciding to pursue Thrill of the Unknown full-time, I’ve experienced the complete gamut of human emotions.

Euphoria that I’m free to do whatever I want. Despair over the fact I’m not really sure what I’m doing. Excitement over creating something that someone might find helpful and valuable. The pain of rejection when someone says they’re interested in what you’re doing, yet their actions say otherwise.

Loneliness. Frustration. Disappointment. Uncertainty. Irritation. Even anger.

I’ve felt all these things and more while working on Thrill of the Unknown.

This past year of living a non-traditional lifestyle has not been one continuous stream of glorious contentment, happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction. Instead, more often than not it’s been a hair-pulling, want-to-scratch-my-eyes-out journey of personal and technical challenges and setbacks.

And then there have been the moments of intense self-doubt and second-guessing myself.

Maybe this was a bad idea. 

Why did I think I could do this?

Is this even worth it? 

What if this doesn’t amount to anything? What if this is just a waste of my time?

If long-lasting happiness and contentment were my ultimate goal with Thrill of the Unknown, I’d frankly be sorely disappointed by the entire experience so far.

 

Why not happiness?

What, ultimately, is happiness?

To me, it’s just a feeling. Same with contentment, fulfillment and satisfaction.

Why should a feeling not be the ultimate goal in life?

Because feelings change. Some days we feel good. Other days we don’t. Sometimes our feelings are tied to reality and sometimes they simply aren’t. Sometimes they seem completely arbitrary.

That’s just life.

At the end of the day, measuring success or my ultimate purpose in life through the lens of a feeling is not a good strategy.

In fact, expecting that anything you create will bring you happiness, satisfaction or fulfillment is a potential recipe for disaster. Because it may not.

Happiness will come and it will go.

I have no doubt I will continue to feel a range of negative emotions while working on Thrill of the Unknown. But that doesn’t mean I should just quit. That doesn’t mean I should give up. That doesn’t mean it’s still not worth pursuing.

Because I believe pursuing what you want to create – pursuing your unknown – is more important than any feeling you may or may not experience along the journey.

Thanks for reading,

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