“Success is having what we want, happiness is wanting what we have.”
We humans are blessed with something no other creature has been privileged to possess, our own personal problem solving machine known as our brain. We survived and thrived through millions of years of evolution, rising to the top of the food chain for one reason and one reason only, our ability to think abstractly about any problem we faced and figure out a solution.
Furthermore, we even developed the ability to look into the future and make realistic predictions about how our solutions to those problems would play out. Then tweak those solutions to improve the results before even applying them.
So, have we lost the ability to figure out the solutions to our problems? I don’t think so. I think we have lost the ability to truly assess the “problem.” If the problem is that we are not getting what we want in life, maybe we are not seeing the problem clearly.
Restated - if we believe that we, as humans, possess the ability to solve any problem that we may face, and that the biggest problem we are facing is not getting what we want in life, then maybe we are fixing the wrong problem. Maybe we are confused about what we really want in life.
Maybe we keep trying to get what we think we want and not what we really want.
What Do We Really Want?
“People are strongly, perhaps even primarily, perhaps even single-mindedly, motivated to feel happy. People want to be happy, and all the other things they want are typically meant to be means to the end.” - Dan Gilbert
I think whenever we break down what we want from life, step-by-step, layer-by-layer, we eventually get to the layer that we can’t break down any further and that layer is “to be happy”. What else is the point. Even the most altruistic, selfless acts are ultimately motivated by the feeling you get when you do them. That feeling is happiness.
We want to be happy
We Get What We Focus On
When we have determined that we truly want something and present the issue to our problem solving machine, it usually spits out a rough estimate of the cost of that something.
It’s only when we have decided that the thing we want is worth the cost of its attainment, that we decide that we truly want it. That is when we make a goal to attain it and that is when it commands our focus.
If at any time during our quest to attain said item we start to waiver and even lose interest in its attainment, that is when we may have to reassess how much we really wanted it. If we lose that laser focus on its attainment, we determined that it was no longer worth the cost or effort, and we terminate the quest, either consciously or subconsciously. Odds are, we just lost our enthusiasm, our excitement, for reaching that goal.
We Focus On What Excites Us
“Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all!!!” - Tim Ferris
It’s only when we have a goal that is big enough and important enough, that excites us enough, that we will keep our focus on that goal.There are many definitions of happiness, of which there are just a few that I believe capture its true meaning. But my favorite is the one that keeps me centered and focussed on what is really important in my life and that is that - happiness = excitement and conversely, unhappiness = boredom.
The only thing in life that will command your focus is what excites you, because ultimately, this is what will make you happy. What would you go through to attain something that doesn’t excite you? Versus what you would go through to achieve something that truly excites you?
So, Let’s Break It Down
We get what we want because we get what we focus on, because we focus on what excites us, because what excites us is what makes us happy, because being happy is what we really want.
If our true goal in life is to be “happy”, and if you agree with me that happiness is not a place but an experience, then “happiness” should be considered more of a way of living.
I would like to add a couple things - I believe that we experience happiness by doing things, not having things. So, maybe we can maximize our happiness by doing more fun things, more exciting things, and more adventurous things!
So let’s get out there!