Why Pursuing Happiness Is Setting You Up To Fail

Aricka Lewis

My main goal in life is to be happy. I am sure this is a line you probably have said yourself and if you haven’t then you have probably heard somebody else say this. Happiness is a concept that is thrown at us and this idea of 24/7 happiness smothers us through books, quotes, posters, stickers, you name it. I even own a journal that says “what to focus on: happy.” I bought into this idea for so long and I can’t blame myself – who wouldn’t want to be happy all the time? Especially as someone who suffered for so many years from depression – happiness seemed to be the answer. But, chasing happiness is a set up for failure.

It is not possible to be happy all of the time. Happiness is an emotion and emotions are fleeting. It is just as much an emotion as anger or sadness. It is not something you can humanly live in all the time. As a culture, we glorify happiness and put it on a pedestal. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Something to be captured and obtained. We will achieve it once we have our dream body, the degree, the soulmate, the house, the wardrobe, and so on.

It is always a step away. While we’re chasing it we fail to live and relish in what we have now. When we are only focusing on happiness we are totally ignoring the other half of life. The other half of us.

We fail to see the beauty and growth that comes from sadness. We ignore how important it is for us to hurt. How important it is to reach down into ourselves and touch all the messy, dark, scary parts. There is so much information in our other emotions but we aren’t paying attention because we label them as “bad”. We’re blind to them because they aren’t valued. We push them away because they’re hard feelings to experience. We set ourselves up for failure when we chase happiness because it’s not a realistic goal. It is part of the human condition to experience the highs and lows of life.

Happiness is set up as a game we will always lose.

What if instead of pursuing a life of happiness we pursue one of peace? Life is never going to be peachy keen all the time. You can’t have a mountain without a valley. There is no good without evil. There is no happiness without sadness. We have to be willing to accept that we cannot always be up. At any stage of life we are hit with hard life situations that can completely knock the wind out of us. It is unfair to expect ourselves to be happy in these moments or expect that these moments won’t happen to us. Anchoring ourselves into peace gives us the grace and courage to face our life situations head on. It is a safe spot to retreat in when things get rough. We may not be happy with the life situation we are currently going through but we can be at peace with it. Peace allows us to release control and give space to trust in the timing and events of our lives.

Happiness is tied to external events outside of us. We are just as silly as dogs who chase their own tails when we chase happiness. We will never be able to control the factors our happiness relies on. There will always be another level to achieve. Peace comes from within and will not waver when life hits you hard. Let us stop the cycle of chasing happiness that has been thrust upon us and instead start choosing peace. TC mark

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