On the Nature of Happiness

Boyhood

What do you want out of life?

What makes you happy?

What’s holding you back?

What are you afraid of?

Are you living like today may be your last?

The questions penetrated my mind with Swiss Army knife precision for the hundredth time. Chiseling out another hole in my brain, ready to be filled with more self-conscious feelings, I began to dissect my every move. Was I wasting my life away by doing things that didn’t bring me happiness? Why did I decide to turn on the television when I know my philosophy book would bring me more happiness?

Let me take a quick break and see what everyone’s up to on Facebook.

Do I thoroughly want what I tell myself I want? Are the things I say I want just a spin off from what society tells me I should want? Within the subconscious of my being I began to question my next action, my next move.

Let me take a quick break and see what everyone’s up to on SnapChat.

I truly want to go backpacking in random countries. But I need money to do that. I’ll have to start my own business and money on the side to support large trips. I must not spend any time with distractions. No more television, no more wasteful drunken nights, no more wasted time. I must sacrifice now to receive future enjoyment.

Let me take a quick break and see what everyone’s up to on Twitter. 

Alright, let’s make a to-do list. Top ten things Logan has to do now. 1. Learn new skills pertinent to goals. 2. Work out more 3. Eat healthier 4. Plan future attainable goals.

Let me take a quick break and see what everyone’s up to on Instagram.


This daily fight is replicated by thousands of Millennials. We strive to know more about ourselves and yearn to work hard to achieve happiness. But every single day, we fail by focusing on the actions, to-dos, and achievements of those around us. We beat ourselves up when we procrastinate, feeling as though we lost ample time to become the better version of ourselves. Spending almost an average of 4 hours per day on Social Media, we are often consumed not by what others are doing, but in our failure to do anything. We quit Facebook and feel a sense of pride, just to spend that same allotted time watching SportsCenter.Those on vacation post incessantly, showcasing their ability to break that norm and shed the stereotype of stillness.

Studies have shown that Millennials want freedom over anything else, including money. We want free flowing action, not constrictions. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve often become jealous at those who refuse distractions and empower themselves with life, not screens. I spoke recently on my desire to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. By seeking the unknown I would challenge myself to self discover and emerge with newfound personal growth. All it took was some patience and unrelenting determination.

But I had it all wrong. Or at least part of it.

Lately, I’ve found by only looking for moments of being uncomfortable, I’m never truly happy. Slapping myself on the wrist for checking Facebook, for watching television, or for staring at the sky would not result in more growth. The pain would only result in more dissatisfaction with my own personal life. Just because I want more action and freedom like other Millennials, does not mean I have to constantly pursue these goals. Throwing oneself in awkward situations does promote self growth, and by only being uncomfortable, by only taking action, we’ll never know what truly makes feel alive.

I’m not advising to continue spending 4 hours a day on social media or distractions. It’s true that you will never remember your friends’ tweets, but you will remember an intimate conversation with them over a cup of Cartel coffee. But it’s okay to breathe and relax. It’s okay to take a second to dull your mind. There will always be something you could be doing.

We should always seek growth, but true happiness does not come from freedom to take any action you may want. True happiness comes from having the freedom and mind to accept the current version of yourself no matter what action you take, no matter how comfortable it may be.

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After reading this a few days after writing this…I’ve realized my thoughts were everywhere. Much like this blog. Revisions will be coming soon.
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2 thoughts on “On the Nature of Happiness

  1. Pingback: On the Nature of Daylight – Max Richter | The Audible Threshold
  2. I find that a main reason I go on Facebook is due to the guilt/fear associated with “missing out.” Ironically, by choosing to scan the feed instead of ignore it, I am missing out on the world around me and my own experience. You call it dulling the mind, and I feel similar. Yet, we do it. We are drawn to it. And what’s more, we often contribute ourselves. We want our own slice of the conversation. We want our own headline. When something crazy or wonderful or depressing happens, we do not think in terms of words associated with feelings, we think in terms of virtual reactions, and what words or pictures we can use in order to best capture our audience of mind dullers as they wander through the vortex. We know ourselves, and we know how boring and dull the feed can be. It only challenges us to make our stories more poignant or “likeable”.

    I like that you mention to forgive ourselves this mindless self indulgence. So long as we keep in mind the difference between the post and the real story and person behind it. Maybe a challenge to social media feeds would be for users to randomly select friends to inquire directly about their postings. Instead of being a statement or story or picture with one side and a period at the end, what if you contacted the person directly and asked for more of the story. Interacted with their headline to expand it past the virtual surface it was granted. Maybe we might find more humanity behind the feed, or maybe we’d scratch the surface until a mirror appeared and we’d realize we’re wasting away.

    Like

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