Life can be an endless pursuit of the things that we want. A bigger house, a better car, a better body, a bigger income, a better school for our kids, a nicer holiday.
There is nothing at all wrong with wanting these things, so long as you remember that that the pursuit of them may bring you pleasure, but not necessarily lasting happiness.
Musicians, actors, and entrepreneurs who have achieved great success can provide some examples of how massive achievement is not necessarily related to happiness. It’s difficult to understand why the likes of Robin Williams, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain took their own lives after having achieved so much.
Conversely, some might pursue happiness by lowering their expectations based on the idea that dropping the endless pursuit of the next best thing isn’t worth the effort. In so doing, there is less chance of being disappointed.
Then there is the kind of happiness that occurs when performing at your peak state. Maybe it’s winning a gold medal in the olympics, achieving the pinnacle of business success, running a marathon, making partner, or reaching that state of flow that comes with the mastery of a musical instrument.
Whether you lower the bar, or raise it ever higher, those feelings of joy and happiness can be fleeting. I don’t have the magic equation, but I think there is something in what Tony Robbins says:
Progress = Happiness
What he means is that happiness comes when we are making progress in our life in some way, whether it’s personally, professionally, spiritually, or emotionally.
It’s in the process of moving forward, of learning and growing, step by step, that true happiness is realised.