Does the Pursuit of Happiness Lead to Unhappiness?

Dec 26, 2019 | 0 comments

Half-pigeon is my least favorite yoga pose. I have a bad hip so half-pigeon hurts me. However, in that moment, the only thing I am thinking about is the pose. The only thing I am focused on is my breath, my surroundings, my sweat. I am truly present.

Too often we spend every waking moment thinking about the future—looking toward the next best thing. When we do this, we are missing out on savoring the truly wonderful moments that are right in front of us. Not only are we obsessed with looking forward, but we are obsessed with filling up every last second of our time with something “to do” so we aren’t “bored.”

I almost always have a book with me so I can read during any down time I may have. If I’m waiting on a friend, I scroll through social media. When I walk to work, I’m checking my emails on my phone. Anything to keep me from being “bored” for even a second.

In his book 10% Happier Dan Harris claims that the pursuit of happiness makes us unhappy because the anxiety surrounding always looking for the next thing instead of enjoying the moments we’re in, makes us miserable. His example from the book illustrates this: “If I can just get to the airport, then if I can just get through security, then if I could just get to my gate, then if I could just get on the plane…” Exhausting, isn’t it?

Stuffing every free moment full of distractions and mindless chatter keeps us from being able to be present. It keeps us from being able to enjoy the peace of empty moments. It keeps us from being able to be mindful.

Mindfulness is such an important practice to incorporate into your life. When you meditate, it gives you so much. It gives you a chance to truly be where you are. Not many of us are doing that anymore. Where you are right now is enough. Take some time today to practice mindfulness and meditate.

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Grace Hartley
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