I blogged about Happiness back in January but since I’ve noticed happiness and unhappiness are the subject of many blogs and posts, I thought it worthwhile to look at it again with another perspective. So many people have happiness as a goal. In the United States, the “pursuit of happiness” is listed right after life and liberty. But is that how you wish to invest your time and effort? Is it a worthy goal?
While there are many things that make me happy, the underlying sense of happiness I feel most of the time comes from having a life of purpose and meaning. It comes from making my choices based on my priorities, purpose, and passion and living that with others.
My priorities are my family, myself (self-care), and my profession. My purpose is to show librarians they are leaders and build more librarian leaders. My passion is promoting the value of school librarians and the work they do.
Guided by these three P’s, I know what new tasks I will undertake and which ones I will refuse. Yes, I still wind up with a lot on my plate. And sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s all doing stuff I love. And it brings me happiness.
LaRae Quy agrees. She suggests we focus on living “a eudaemonic life…purposeful, full of meaning” and offers the following 4 Reasons Why a Good Life Is More Important than Happiness:
- Fewer Regrets – Your life may not have turned out the way you thought it would. You may be miles away from where you started. If you’re feeling unsure, Quy suggests you check your inner compass, and find “the individual purpose in your lives.” It may take time to discover, but it’s time well spent.
Think about what you are doing and how it fits with your life’s purpose, the change you want to contribute to with your time, talents, and efforts. Monetary compensation is rarely great if you are in education, but knowing you make a difference in others’ lives may connect with your purpose. And if you are not recognized for your contribution, then work on enlightening them.
- Noble Sacrifices – If you are school librarian, you obviously sought more than financial rewards. Obstacles and difficulties are a part of life. As Quy points out, “If something is important to us, we will endure the pain to make it happen.” And through those challenging times we learn and grow.
You are making a noble sacrifice when you go that extra mile – or mile and a half—for someone else or for a program you believe in. It happens when you volunteer for your state school library association, or anytime you voluntarily step out of your comfort zone. And you will get more than you give.
- Significant Relationships – Quy asks us to look at the important people in your life. Do their values match yours? The old expression, “tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are” is a good reminder. It’s not the purpose of someone else to make you happy, but they shouldn’t be draining you of your happiness.
Some relationships are toxic. They are exhausting. You steel yourself for every conversation knowing they will be complaining or ranting about something. If they are not family or someone you work with, look for ways to end the relationship or add distance in it. By contrast, Quy cites a 75-year study showing that “good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”
- Clear Sense of Direction – Quy asks, “If you had a year to live, what would you do?” I think too many people would think first of their bucket list. My question is, “What you want your eulogy to say?” We may or may not believe in the afterlife, but there is an “after life” when you are remembered.
A life focused on pursuing happiness won’t be remembered for long. You are touching lives today that will be affected many years into the future. And they will be passing down the wisdom they learned from you.
Take joy in life. Celebrate happy times and achievements. Just don’t make happiness the only goal. As the late Gilda Radnor in her Roseanne Roseannadanna persona famously said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.” Things happen. Keep your priorities, purpose, and passion close to you. You’ll be happier for it.