The more talks I give about being happy, the more I realize that the why is even more important than the what and the how. Almost everyone I talk to already knows somewhere inside of them what makes them happy, but they aren’t always convinced that it’s worth digging up. They ask me how to be happier, but the question I see in their eyes is “why should I bother?”
We are hardwired to want happiness, and yet somewhere in the process of growing up we get this idea that reaching for happiness is frivolous at best and selfish at worst. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Being happy is not just good for the individual, but for the whole world that we’re each a part of.
When you are happier, you make the people around you happier. In fact, the effects of one person’s happiness can be traced through three degrees of relationships. Your friends’ friends’ friends are affected by your happiness. Making yourself happy is one of the few ways you can predictably make someone else happier. That’s what researchers tell us.
Here is what research can’t tell us but my gut knows is true:
Being happy is how you find your purpose.
To notice what makes you happy is to follow breadcrumbs left by the Universe. At the end of the trail is your destiny, your reason for existing.
My mom used to tell me, “God doesn’t give you desires and dreams to screw with you.” At the time I thought she meant that God wanted me to be happy, but now I understand it’s bigger than that.
Your happiness takes you to your purpose, and your purpose isn’t just about you.
We all know what it means to be part of something bigger than us: a family, a community group, a corporation. Within that bigger group we all play a part. The group works best when we do our part well.
Your purpose is your part, the thing you were put here to do while the rest of us do what we were put here to do.
When you fulfill your purpose, you make the world better because we are all connected. We are one whole sustained by each of us doing our part. What makes you happy is your part.
This is why you long for happiness with the same ferocity with which your lungs gasp for air.
This is why you’re given a voice, an instinct that tells you “this is joy” and “this is not for me”.
No one can hear the voice but you, and yet we all are counting on you to listen. We need you to do your part.
If you don’t do your part, then someone else has to, someone for whom it is not destiny – and they will hate it as much as you would have loved it. They will complain and procrastinate and avoid, just as you complain and procrastinate and avoid when you’re trying to fulfill someone else’s purpose. What a waste! What a sad misuse of lives.
If this is so integral, so necessary, then why is it so hard sometimes?
I think we forget. I think we hear the voice when we are kids, but over time it gets drowned out by outside noise. We start to confuse influence with instinct. We replace happiness with shoulds.
The shoulds are where you stop and the rest of the world begins.
The rest of the world isn’t bad; it is connected to you. But it is also a cacophony of wishes and desires. It is made up of all the clues, and together they are as confusing as a box of pieces from multiple jigsaw puzzles. They only make sense when you pull them apart, when they are deciphered one at a time.
Focus on your piece.
Listen for your voice.
Lean into your happiness.
It’s what you were put here to do.