The (Ceaseless) Pursuit of Happiness

Ultimately, it is the desire, not the desired, that we love.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Think of a time in your life where you were 100% satisfied in all areas — relationships, family, health, work/school, finances, and friendships. You didn’t have any goals, because everything was absolutely perfect. If you can think of a time like this, then we need to set up a coffee date ASAP. Seriously, I want to know your secret. I will also attempt to call you out on your bullsh*t, but hey, my perception is not your reality. 🙂

A philosophy professor once told me, “you will never be fully satisfied.” 7 years later, I am confident that his statement applies to me, and 99.9% of the population.

Before you click out of this blog post thinking I’m a cynical Cindy, the idea of never achieving full satisfaction is a very positive one. Desire is what keeps us moving. I believe it is through desire that we reach our highest potential as humans. On the other hand, I would argue that our potential is infinite, just like our desires. It simply never ends. There is always something that can be improved, and it is in our nature to keep fighting for it.

Most of us are brats. If things don’t go our way, we get upset. Now, imagine a world where everything always worked out in your favor. Would you be happier? No. You wouldn’t feel anything at all. You wouldn’t have any of the negative emotions that are required in order to feel the positive ones. Remember, light cannot exist without darkness.

So, from time to time, we experience disappointment. Life goes up in flames, then we rise from the ashes, stronger, wiser, and more beautiful than before.

When I achieve one of my goals, sure, I may celebrate or give myself a nice pat on the back, but those positive feelings are temporary. Everything eventually normalizes — it’s a concept known as the hedonic treadmill, leaving us in a more neutral-feeling state of mind. For most of us, neutral emotions aren’t good enough. So, we keep moving.

There are times in our lives where we might want something we cannot have. It’s an incredibly frustrating feeling. I know…I’ve been there. Why do we put ourselves in these situations? We subconsciously want things that are unattainable because the pursuit of them will never end. In a way, wanting something you can’t have is a safe bet that will keep you moving while providing meaning to life. We all need something to do, right?

So, next time things fall apart, take a step back, and acknowledge your negative emotions. You need to experience negativity so that when something positive comes along, it will be that much sweeter. I hope you keep pursuing your own definition of happiness.

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