Deep Happiness vs. Momentary Happiness

Everybody is happy sometimes. But relatively few of us are happy to the core on an ongoing basis. What adjustments do we need to make?

Since the feeling of happiness is a by-product of being in harmony with people or things we care about, one way is to spend time only with those people and doing those activities we like. But for many of us that is not possible, and even if it were, “what we like” changes over time.

What can we do?

For starters, make the effort to connect individual actions to your priorities and goals. Recall that nothing happens in isolation. When you interpret ordinary or even unpleasant activities as being steps toward what you care most about, they stop being so unpleasant and you feel better.

For example: Nobody loves cleaning up dog poop. If all you focus on is the act of scooping poop off the sidewalk, it’s a lousy task. But if you love your dog, cleaning up is part of a rewarding relationship with an animal. In the same way, commuting to work, paying bills, and many other unpleasant tasks contribute to the lifestyle that you have chosen. If you understand those tasks as contributors to your overall happiness, their momentary unpleasantness vanishes as quickly as the dog poop once you’ve thrown it in the trash.

Lifelong happiness is more important and more rewarding than feeling pleasure in any given moment. Learn to think of activities you dislike as mere steps along a more important path. Your emotional system will respond and you’ll feel happier longer.

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