We have all heard that phrase at one time or the other, “Do what makes you happy” but what does it really mean and is it possible to live purposefully if we always do what makes us happy?
I have always struggled with these words, I am a classic overthinker and instead of just accepting words for what they are, I always tend to over study and overanalyse everything. This has its advantages and has served me well many times and has been useful in helping me grow as an individual. However, sometimes it leads me to decision paralysis as i spend too much time in the thinking zone and not enough in the doing zone.
When it comes to these words though, i am glad that I did spend time analysing and thinking about how this fits in with the notion of being the best version of ourselves. After all, if we always do what makes us happy, we could end up making bad choices or hurting people. E.g. being selfish and ignoring others needs, eating or drinking too much because it feels good at the time, not taking the time to exercise because it’s too hard and we would rather chill out and watch movies instead, having an extramarital affair etc., you get the gist.
The reality is we cannot always do what makes us happy because happiness in itself is a transient and fickle emotion. I have talked about this in many of my blogs and it is also the foundation of my first book “Screaming helps” which focuses on helping us find contentment as opposed to happiness because I see contentment as a more stable emotion.
What we need to understand is that doing what makes you happy so that you can become your better self does not mean being selfish, hurting others or being reckless. It means having the courage to step out and do something different because you would like the experience. It means being authentic and having the courage to be yourself.
It means not being shackled by societal norms to fit specific stereotypes of what is normal or what is expected. If you can safely say, doing what makes you happy will not hurt anyone and will not impact on your own long term happiness or sabotage your efforts at becoming better. So for example, overeating or bingeing might feel good at the point in time when you are doing it but with experience you realise that you usually end up with regret the next day and other negative emotions such as a sense of disappointment in yourself, guilt and perhaps shame. This shows you that even though overeating may have felt good for all of 30 mins when you were doing it, it does not make you happy in the long run. The short term thrill does not outweigh the negative emotions it brings.
So where does this leave you? you learn how to do many things that will enable you to exist in your authentic self such as;
Learning to say no and not feel guilty about it.
Learning to do more of the things that make you happy.
Learning to say no to toxic people, drama and any all round sh*t that doesn’t serve you.
This will bring you total freedom to be yourself and to truly be able to do more of what makes you happy.
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