Is happiness actually a myth?

A few years ago I was seriously unhappy, I hated my job (even though in hindsight it wasn’t that bad), I had low motivation and felt hopeless about my future. On paper, things should have been good.

I moved to one of the biggest cities in the world, had a job using my talents after University just like I wanted. But it wasn’t enough. I could only think about what lied ahead, how I was going to improve things in the future. I was constantly unhappy, in fact I was becoming depressed for the second or third time in my life.

I remember having counselling, in which I sobbed uncontrollably for the first three sessions straight. What the hell was going on?

I was lucky that my counsellor of that time, and my own commitment to growth, helped me to be able to adjust my focus from the things I thought I wanted, the stuff I thought I lacked, the things about the future instead to what values and beliefs I hold strongly and what is happening right at this moment.

Through practice, I soon saw that the future isn’t something I can control. The future both does not exist yet and is unchanging at the same time. Why should I waste my energy on something that I can’t see, touch, feel, or even change?

What I could do instead, was learn to be present with what is going on around me right now. And here’s the bonus: only by doing that, would I ever be able to make any impact on what does lie ahead in the future. But instead, I learned to accept what may be and not try to change it, but only try to set myself up for a more open and positive future.

From this, guess what? I started to become happy again. How the crap nugget did that work?

I realised that when I stopped trying to pursue happiness, when I gave up trying to chase after that perfect life and instead focused on everything I had in front of me; happiness found me. Or, at least, some level of contentment.

Now I would never lie to you and suggest I am the happiest person on the planet (there’s no such thing – maybe except for the Dalai Lama) but I would proudly say that I am a far more positive person than I once was.

I would even go as far to say that the definition of “happiness” is a debatable one. I’m not so sure it is something even attainable, so I don’t try to capture it. Instead, I practice being content in my every day life through finding purpose and meaning in the work I do, the relationships I have and what I experience.

I don’t know the meaning of “I can’t” or “impossible”, I believe that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. I focus on each day as it comes, trying to celebrate the small wins within them, allowing me to be content and satisfied with what exists. Not what does not and may never exist.

Happiness is a state, not a destination. So too is motivation. Neither can be generated, willed, or found; they find you when you begin to accept what is, without trying to change it.