Happiness Isn't the End-All & Be-All

Hi, my name is Courtney Palmer and I recently began working at the Warren Alexander Group. As I move into this new job and this new year I reflect about what life is about. I think about what drives me and it reminds me of an article I wrote for a local Edmond paper.  I think it is still very applicable so I thought I would share it!

Even as I write this article, I want to say, "Um...I'm sorry, what?" Isn't that what we are all striving for? Aren’t we all looking for ways to increase those positive feelings of happiness? People (including myself, mind you) make goals and decisions that are influenced by the payoff of happiness. Think about it, our job, housing, marriage, kids, friendships, food, exercise, etc. All of these things are started or stopped with happiness in mind. Happiness can have a strong influence on our moods, our decisions and how we rate our success in life.

I’ve been contemplating about how many people I know who are getting divorced. I feel like they are beginning to equate to my friends who are getting married. Generally, I hear people going into marriage say how happy they will be while people divorcing note how "they just aren't happy anymore." For many, one of the requirements to continue marriage is consistent happiness and feelings of love and joy.  

I recently heard Craig Groeschel, the head pastor of Lifechurch.tv, say "If you go chasing after happiness, you will never find it." My initial thought was "Well, that sucks." One of his points is that happiness is absolutely fleeting. It is a by-product of other things, like decisions and relationships and is, therefore, NOT the end goal. We tend to believe that if we aren’t feeling happiness then changing our circumstances is the answer to feeling happy again. This seems to be the great barometer for needing to make changes, whether they be physical, emotional, spiritual, mental or relational. Rather than choosing to make changes to increase happiness, one needs to make changes with other benefits in mind. For example, when there is little happiness in a marriage, changes could be made to increase intimacy and trust between partners. The focus is not on the lack of happiness but on relationship improvement.  

I do want to note that I am not saying that living in misery is how one should live or that one should stay in an abusive situation. That may not be showing necessary respect or care for yourself. What I am saying is that there has to be something else you are striving for...something else that you can use for a barometer.

Believe me, I hope that my life is filled with moments of happiness. I hope that I have feelings of deep bliss! I am learning that it cannot lead my decisions. Lately, when I do make decisions with the thought, “It will make me happier” it usually leads me to be compulsive and make decisions I will regret later.

When I make a decision based on life goals that I am working towards, they are thought out and while these decisions may not lead to immediate happiness, moments of happiness will absolutely be part of the journey.

To reference this article, go to http://edmondlifeandleisure.com/happiness-isnt-the-beall-endall-p9867-102.htm

Courtney Palmer is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who specializes in working with couples and families but also works with individuals.