Do What Challenges You, Not What Makes You Happy

I’d like to push you outside your comfort zone if you are willing to take the test. Let us start with a question: Are you happy right now? If not, what is the cause of your unhappiness? You might not know and that’s fine, but how will you recognize happiness if you cannot distinguish being unhappy? This is not about blame or judgement, but you consented to be pushed outside your comfort zone. Shall we go on?

Do you make an attempt to step outside your comfort zone often? Do you challenge yourself regularly? Some people push themselves by challenging their body, through grueling sporting endeavors. But they may experience little or no personal growth because they become thrill-seeking junkies.

If it’s happiness we seek, we ought to do what challenges us, not what makes us happy. Let me explain what I mean. If we pursue happiness without personal improvement, it is likely to be short lived. However, if we pursue personal growth, then happiness is a byproduct of improved self-esteem. It requires developing self-confidence and resiliency, which enhances our self-esteem. Are you with me so far? Can you see how trying to chase happiness alone is unrealistic because there is no foundation for it to last? It is similar to pursuing wild adventures, hoping each one will be better than the next. We become addicted to the thrill ride but rarely experience lasting happiness.

Those we consider successful, whether leaders in our community or others, spend years nurturing their personal growth. They are happy because their consciousness has expanded to encompass their positive character traits. When we pursue actions that reinforce our self-worth, then happiness is likely to be long lasting. For example, think about when you graduated from university or received a job promotion. I’m certain you experienced a sense of achievement and greater self-esteem, given your dedication to your study or career. The reward becomes evident in your commitment to improve the quality of your life.

As we enhance our personal growth, our level of happiness grows in proportion. Have you noticed those who feel unappreciated are constantly miserable or complaining about the state of the world? They feel as though life is beating down upon them instead of assuming control of their own life. Don’t become one of those people, because life is not about playing victim, since we have more power than we recognize. Yes, we will make mistakes and experience failures and setbacks. Yes, challenges are sewn into the fabric of life to enhance our self-esteem, not crush it. Therefore, we have a choice: We can choose to grow relative to our problems or retreat into despair. But if we choose the latter, we are certain of a life filled with misery and discontent.

I’m certain you don’t want to be that person. I’m sensing, if you’ve read this far, you value your personal growth and want to improve your life. The key is to keep moving forward, even in the face of adversity and difficulties. We must get up when we encounter defeat since we gain wisdom, fortitude, and inner resilience to overcome our challenges. For example, in my 20s, life was smooth sailing. However, in my 30s, challenges were more prominent, and instead of cowering in defeat, I walked towards them with a strong conviction to grow from my experiences. I’ve encountered a great deal of pain, heartache and obstacles throughout my life, but I’ve experienced immense personal growth, hence why I am able to share this wisdom with others.

So I invite you to choose what pushes you, not what makes you happy because you may be happy now, but miserable in the long run. If you find yourself in a difficult situation, instead of running from it, lean into it. You may find it is more than you can tolerate and that’s okay. Trust that you will grow in proportion to your challenges as long as you don’t give up on yourself. Trust that you have the capacity to overcome difficult problems. Trust that you will gain sufficient growth to expand your consciousness beyond your current state.

Knowing this, I’d like you to spend 15 minutes examining your current challenges. See if you can notice what they’re inviting you to learn about yourself? Is it patience, understanding, self-reliance, resiliency, courage? It is when we learn to dance with life that the song we sing will be expressed through our setbacks and challenges.

About the author
Self-empowerment author, expert speaker and coach. Follow Tony on Instagram or read more articles from Tony on Thought Catalog.

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