What is your goal in life?

Well that’s so simple I will tell you.  Your goal is to be HAPPY.

All other goals spring from that. ..relationships, career achievements, charity work, life accomplishments…all these stem from a desire to be happy. Some may say that the goal of happiness is implicit and obvious, and that we need more specific goals to achieve. I disagree…I think many of us get so caught up in our goals – that next promotion, winning that sport tournament, saving money for retirement (if you were crazy enough to work your whole life, you deserve a vacation at this point), etc. that we often lose sight of how the only reason we strive to achieve these goals is to increase our personal happiness. If we could only step back and acknowledge that, we could more accurately align our goals with what makes us truly happy.

Our desires change over time, and therefore so should our goals.  If you aren’t happy with what you are doing, don’t do it.  If you feel as if you are working towards a goal you no longer enjoy, stop. This will ensure you avoid that hollow feeling of accomplishment that follows so many mis-established goals.  You will always seek happiness, but having the courage to make the changes required to pursue is where the difficulty lies.

Everyone wants to be happy.  But happiness comes from different places for different people.  I consider these second level goals – the ideals you value that act as your roadmap to happiness.  Things like success, love, prestige, challenging yourself – these are all paths to happiness.  These in turn are attainable through third level goals – the physical action by which you will attain your second level goals.  For me personally, these goals include (among others): writing, travel, entrepreneurship, and being able to support my future family with an acceptable lifestyle.  Some of these goals may involve money, but never directly and thus emphasis should never fall on money itself.

Many people select their goals based on what they have been told will make them happy – earning lots of money, having a prestigious job, owning a house with a two car garage in the suburbs. Even charity work can be undertaken the wrong way, when you expect rewards and feelings that have nothing to do with your satisfaction, the realization of your gratitude for all that you were fortunate enough to have been given in your life.  But all of these things are a means to an end, the end being happiness and a life well lived. But if that was your aim from the get-go, you might realize that you don’t need a million dollars or a fancy car to attain it.

Two lessons I have learned in North America

Lesson #1:  Money does not make you happy.

Lesson #2:  Most people in our society don’t realize this fact.

You hear it all the time, on the radio or at your family Christmas gathering.  “If only I won the lottery, I would…”  It could be anything.  “Buy that ferrari”, or  “live on a beach forever”.  Sadly, it is doubtful that that ferrari would keep them happy for very long, and they probably could live on a beach forever if they actually sold their house and moved to a more affordable country.  Perhaps they would if that was actually what they wanted to do.  But I am not convinced of that.  I think if that person won the lottery, they would stay at home and have the same problems as they always had, if not more of them.  Some people even say it straight up.  “If I won the lottery, I would be happy,” they say.  They’ve almost got it…except they’re working at the problem from the wrong end.

There is one small secret that everyone seems to miss out on.  It’s not very difficult.  But for some reason it eludes many of us.  Ready for it?

Happiness comes from within.

It should be your goal.  Your means and your end.  Forget money, cars, beaches…all of those things are a means to happiness.  If you boil it all down to the basic reason you want them, you will find that all you really want is happiness.  Even things like success, prestige, fame – all of these fuel your happiness, your satisfaction that you are getting what you want out of life.  I am not saying to ignore these things, merely that you should recognize that it is only when happiness becomes your means will you be satisfied with your end, whatever it may be.

It may sound like a wishy washy self-help book you browsed through on the shelf at the bookstore…but maybe there’s a reason they are a multi billion dollar a year industry.  Because they are right.  At least on that point.

Nothing Satisfies

Ever stop to think of all the impoverished people in this world who happily lead lives based around family and friends who are satisfied WITH nothing?  Because I can think of a large number of well-off people are unhappy with their current state of affairs…they seem to be satisfied BY nothing.

But ain’t it the truth!  An interesting dichotomy…I know Madison will appreciate that vocab.

The Foo Fighters had it right…nothing satisfies, one way or another!

All my life I’ve been searching for something
Something never comes never leads to nothing
Nothing satisfies but I’m getting close
Closer to the prize at the end of the rope

Good song.