Some personal thoughts on how to discover ‘true’ happiness:
What isn’t true happiness?
I think we often confuse the difference between pleasure and happiness.
- Pleasure: Sexual pleasure, pleasure from eating food, pleasure from doing drugs or alcohol, pleasure from seeing new things.
- Happiness: Creative flourishing
Pleasure isn’t bad.
I don’t necessarily think that pleasure is bad. We need pleasure in order to live! If we gained no pleasure from sexual delights, we wouldn’t have children. If we didn’t have pleasure from eating food, we wouldn’t eat! If we didn’t gain pleasure from seeing new things, we humans would have never become conquerers, explorers, and adventurers.
We must differentiate the difference between ‘pleasure’ and ‘happiness’
However the problem is when we confuse (or conflate) the difference between pleasure and happiness.
We need BOTH pleasure and happiness in life, but to obtain happiness is far more elusive than gaining pleasure.
Everyone knows how to do things that give them pleasure, but not everyone knows how to creatively flourish (happiness).
Activity over Passivity
You will never be able to be ‘happy’ unless you are active. Happiness isn’t something that happens to you, happiness is something that YOU DO!
For example, active things that can bring you happiness:
- Actively having deep conversation with peers who are on your level (‘inter pares‘ — among equals)
- Actively blogging, writing, making photos, dancing, singing, or expressing yourself creatively
- Actively making things, building things, dreaming of things, actively thinking.
Should we ever be passive?
Thus if you are passive in life, you don’t have power, and you’re (somehow) suffering.
To be clear, I don’t think that the word ‘passive’ is the opposite (antipode) of ‘active’. I think they are two different things.
You can ‘purposefully procrastinate‘ or delay reaction– this isn’t passive, this is active.
How to conquer passivity
Sometimes we are passive in the sense that we are meek, afraid, and scared of taking action. We are uncertain of ourselves. We become overwhelmed by having too many choices, with the fear that we will make the ‘wrong’ decision. Furthermore, we sometimes fall victim to ‘paralysis by analysis‘.
I think this is the lesson I’ve learned for myself:
To conquer fear of failure, intentionally push yourself to the max– TRYING to fail!
When I say “try to fail”, I don’t mean self-sabotage. I mean to push yourself to the most extreme of limits, that there is a high likelihood of you failing.
In praise of powerlifting
For example, I think one of the best ways to push your self-perceived limits is through powerlifting (‘1 rep max style of weight-lifting’). For a long time, the maximum “1 rep max” I had for dumbbell press was 100 pounds (each hand). My only goal in powerlifting is to keep becoming stronger — so every workout or week, I try to do a little more than I did last time.
Most of the time when I am attempting a new “one rep max”, I generally fail. Why? Because I am pushing my body to the most extreme limits! I generally expect to fail, but that doesn’t prevent me from trying, or attempting more.
For a while I plateau’d at 100 pound dumbbell press, and I’ve been attempting a 105 pound dumbbell press for the last few weeks.
Today I was finally able to get the 105 pound dumbbells up for a single repetition.
The lesson was this:
The only way to get stronger and overcome plateaus is to continually practice, to continually push your limits, and not to get discouraged or disappointed by failing.
Why failure is good.
Once again, failure is generally a good sign, because it means that you had the guts to take a massive risk, or you attempted a new maximum. If you’re going that hard, you’re most likely going to fail.
But the goal isn’t to fail, the goal is to succeed and push your limits. But on the road to success, you’re going to fail a lot. Thus, the road to success is paved with millions of failures.
Happiness is pushing yourself beyond your conceived notions of yourself.
And for myself, “happiness” is always pushing yourself to become more, do more, achieve more, and create more.
Thus ‘happiness’ should probably be seen more as a VERB, not a final state. When you are working towards your dreams, hustling hard, you’re “happying” (actively being happy, by doing epic shit).
To sum up:
Don’t confuse (conflate) happiness and pleasure. Pleasure is fine, but the true way to be happy is to actively do things, make things, create things, and to BECOME more!
And furthermore, this is even a deeper point:
I don’t believe the point of life is to be ‘happy’. Happiness is simply a bridge or a means to something else.
I think you must be ‘happy’ in order to develop yourself to the furthest extent possible. You must be ‘happy’ in order to create great works (magnum opuses).
I think ultimately the point of life is to empower yourself and empower others.
Of course this is just my personal thought; you must discover your own personal truth for yourself.
BE BOLD, and venture into the most dangerous unknowns.
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