If You Want A Happy Life, Don't Do This - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

If You Want A Happy Life, Don't Do This

Everyone wants a life that feels good.  If you haven’t noticed however, creating a life that feels good seems to be easier in theory than it is in practice.  There are some elements that add up to a happy life for all people but besides those things, the ingredients that make up a happy life are completely unique to each person.  That being said, there are some definite things that add up to an unhappy life for all people and living according to strategy is one of them.

I want you to imagine a person in a company wanting to climb the corporate ladder.  Chances are they will try to come up with a strategy to achieve that goal of getting what they want.  That strategy is carried out with a ‘means to an end’ attitude. When we are approaching getting what we want in a way where the ends justify the means, what we do is bulldoze the parts of ourselves that don’t want to and don’t enjoy doing something.  We play a zero sum game with those parts within ourselves. We do things we don’t like to do and don’t want to do in order to get what we want. Most of us will find ourselves in scenarios like this on planet earth at some point. For example, if we really want a driver’s license, we will stand in line at the DMV, something that no one wants to do.  This does not make us happy at all. But it is tolerable because most of us only do that one time in several years. But imagine if every day of your life was lived this way, where the majority of the time you were doing something you didn’t like and didn’t want to do for something you wanted.

Most people on the planet today live a life where they spend the vast majority of their time doing something that they don’t like and don’t want to do as a means to getting to some end that they do want.  This is the story of most people’s careers.  We do something we don’t like in order to get what we do want which is money.  There is no way to have a happy life if you are living this way. People simply choose to settle in this way because they have been taught to believe that this is what all people do and that there is no other option.  It is a reality that some people are in more difficult positions than others in terms of getting out of this strategy for getting what we want. This is especially true if we learned that doing what we don’t want to do was the correct strategy to use in order to get what we wanted when we were little.  But difficult position aside, it must be understood that in order to have a happy life, all people must strive to have a life where the strategy taken to getting what you want is different than doing something you don’t like and don’t want to do to get it.

I’m going to give you an analogy.  Imagine you want to get to the Ocean.  But you are convinced that the only way to get to the ocean is by going through an industrial waste dump.  You really hate industrial waste dumps. You will have to spend hours walking through the waste dump to end up at the ocean.  The first time, you take this road; it will feel worth it to be at the ocean. The second, it will feel less worth it. The third, even less worth it.  And eventually it will feel not worth it at all. You will realize that you spend most of your time unhappy and you will begin to resent that you have to walk through the waste dump to get to the ocean. It is a human principal that once you get what you want, the means will feel less and less like they are justified by the ends.  

What we have to do if we want to have a happy life is we have to adopt a different strategy.  We have to do whatever we possibly can to find a means that we enjoy to get to the ends we want.  Using the analogy. We hate the industrial waste dump. We may love a desert trail. We have to find a desert trail that leads us to the ocean so that we are enjoying what we are doing to get what we want.  When this is the case, we want both. The happiest people on this earth and I would dare say the most successful in terms of living life itself are those that take this even further. They try to find a way of getting what they want that they like even better than getting what they want.  For example, they want money, like all people. But they find a way of making money or even invent a way to make money doing something that they love much more than getting the money. This is why the best questions you can ask yourself are: What would I do if I never got paid a single dime to do it?  And if someone gave me 5 million dollars today, what would I do with my time, now that I no longer have to do anything so that I have money?  It will usually be the same answer for both questions.  Get creative about how to use that answer as a means to making money.  It is simply your mind telling you that it is impossible to make money doing those things.  

I can promise you that a long time ago, someone would tell a person, who answered this question with “I would travel and eat”, that they had to get practical because they would never ever be able to make money that way.  But that was before the career of food journalism was invented. People in general are so limited by the idea of what is and isn’t possible. People are even more limited by the idea that they couldn’t possibly be the one to create a new possibility that does not yet exist.  

If we meet our needs and achieve our wants in round about ways, such as doing what we don’t want to do to in order to get them, we will end up unhappy.  We will also greatly damage our relationships. This failing strategy is in fact the heart of manipulation. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Meet your needs.

We use this losing strategy so often relative to all kinds of things as people.  Here are just a few examples: We volunteer to do something we hate to do just to get the praise we crave from someone.  We work a job we hate in order to get money. We don’t follow our dreams, instead we stick close to home with one of our parents and live our lives the way they want us to live it so we can get a sense of approval from them.  We spend years in college studying something we don’t even have a passion for so we can have credibility and accolades. We quit our job and become a stay at home mom so that we can see ourselves as a good mom. Or the opposite, we want to be a stay at home mom but we get a job instead so we can get societal esteem.  We stay in a relationship that is abusive, in order to get security. The questions to ask yourself are: What do I really want? What am I currently doing in order to get what I want? What are the ways that I am doing what I don’t want to do in order to get what I want?

We have to adopt a different strategy than this because it is unsustainable.  There is no way to maintain it long term without huge consequences. If you want a happy life, you’ve got to love not only getting what you want, but also what you do in order to get what you want.


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