Yes, I did just ask that. And boy, what a question! Are you looking for happiness in the wrong places?
I know I have – and I still do from time to time. You know it’s a journey!
Many people believe that the purpose of this life is to find happiness, and many others are obsessed with it.
At an early age, we “learn” that happiness is this glorified state and that anything else (sadness, anger, fear, hurt…) is something to be ashamed of, something we must move away from as quickly as possible.
And we are pointed directly to the wrong places where happiness for sure will be, so it’s not your fault if you’ve been looking there.
I’ve identified 12 wrong places where we look for happiness, never to be found. They all start with P – which is not a coincidence, of course, because you know I’m the alliteration queen.
12 Wrong Places To Look For Happiness
The 12 places you need to stop looking for happiness, because you’ll never find it there are: possessions or purchases, paychecks or profits, people, passions, pleasures, places, prizes, praise, pain avoidance, power, pity, and prominence or prestige.
These all give you a false and fleeting sense of happiness, so it’s great to identify them, so you can have clear and reasonable expectations. Let’s talk about them one by one!
Seeking happiness in possessions or purchases
I grew up in extreme poverty, so when I started making “good money,” I started surrounding myself with expensive things.
I quickly realized that buying and having luxurious, exclusive, and costly things didn’t make me happier, as we used to think in the slum.
I actually felt emptier and less abundant because no matter how much I paid to get those things, I still felt every bit of anger, emptiness, and sadness I felt before I called them my own.
Seeking happiness in paychecks or profits
I know there was a time I wished there were more zeros printed on my paycheck.
I would surely be happier when I made more money, when I increased my income, when I earned more than I spent.
Yeah… It turns out that whenever I’ve earned the big figures and they were deposited directly into my bank account, and nothing magical happened.
My level of happiness remained pretty much the same as it was before the wire transfer. Has this happened to you?
Seeking happiness in people
My biggest lesson, perhaps is that I can’t find happiness in people – in their approval, to be specific.
Oh my! How many times have I actually sabotaged my own happiness because I wanted to please someone – you know, so that they like me and looove me, and never leave me!
I love the quote by Byron Katie that reads like a prayer: “God, spare me from the desire to seek love, approval, or appreciation.”
When we’re expecting something from someone it’s almost impossible to feel happy about anything else.
Seeking happiness in passions
I’ve been a Certified Passion Test facilitator for over a decade, so yes, I’m all about identifying your passions and then living a passionate life.
However, pursuing your passions in itself won’t make you happy.
For example, when I got married in 2012, I was following one of my passions. To describe the experience in the kindest possible way, I will say it wasn’t the fairy tale I was dreaming it would be.
If I’m honest, I was never really happy in that relationship, and I am actually happier now that I’m not in it.
Even something so amazing as following your passions can be dangerous when you’re passionate about it for the wrong reasons.
Seeking happiness in pleasures
What do you really enjoy? Some of my favorite things include dancing, traveling, and, of course, writing.
What comes to mind right now is enjoying a cup of hot chocolate with a fun movie or series, my favorite fleece blanket, and fuzzy socks!
I like simple pleasures, while some of my friends enjoy more elaborate ones… and both are great. However, pleasure is not a source of happiness.
You can have all the pleasures in the world and be as miserable as Scrooge. Can you relate to that?
Seeking happiness in places
Do you love nature? The ocean? Amusement parks? Your garden?
I love Disney experiences. Visiting any of the Disney Parks or stepping aboard the Disney Cruise Line with my daughters are some of the most amazing memories of my life.
And though I’m convinced that Disney places are indeed the most fun, magical, and happiest places on Earth, I’ve seen grumpy at Disney a lot, and I’m not only talking about the dwarf.
In the same sense, it’s like Rihanna sings “we found love in a hopeless place.” You can be happy in an awful place!
Seeking happiness in prizes
I have lots of certificates and awards. I have them displayed in my office/learning room and it brings me a sense of pride and accomplishment that helps me go on when it’s hard. I added them to my email signature, too!
And you know what I’m going to say, right? Prizes, recognition and awards are great for branding, positioning, and marketing, but they have nothing to do with happiness.
Seeking happiness in praise
In looking back at my childhood, I’ve realized that Words of Appreciation has always been my primary love language, so praise has always been a tricky thing for me.
Oh the things I’ve done in exchange for a little bit of praise! It used to make me sick, but these days I am practicing being more forgiving of myself for it.
This one will probably require its own blog post, but let me just say that when you are desperate for praise, you end up being prey…. Hey, I like that I just came up with that!
Seeking happiness in pain avoidance
This one is big because I can probably safely say we all somehow try to avoid being hurt “so we can be happy.”
Some ways to avoid pain are judged and some are praised.
Some ways to numb pain are illegal, some others are frowned upon, and others widely acceptable.
Some ways we use to numb and avoid pain are not even associated with pain at all – we call them procrastination or fun.
I invite you to ponder along with me: What am I doing to avoid or numb my pain and what is it costing me?
Whenever I’ve asked myself this question (and listened to the answer), it’s been transformative for me!
Seeking happiness in power
Jimi Hendrix once said “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” I think he was quoting Mahatma Gandhi.
The same goes for happiness.
You already know you’ve got limitless inner power, so you can easily tap into that. However, external power doesn’t make one happy. Added power is quite a test of character, too!
Seeking happiness in pity
I know this one may probably sound weird, but pity can feel a lot like love, and that’s why we seek it in hopes to be happy.
To be fair, sometimes when we are deep in self-pity is the only time we actually get anything that looks like kindness, caring, or compassion, so it becomes an unconscious and automatic bid for connection.
Well, long story short, we don’t live happily ever after in the end and we just get to be the victim, which doesn’t really work out for anyone.
Seeking happiness in prominence and prestige
And last, but not least, we often seek happiness in the recognition, admiration, and respect of others. Or maybe in fame in popularity.
If you’ve ever read the tabloids or checked what’s trending on Twitter, you’ll soon find out that being famous, popular, worshipped, and adored does not affect your level of happiness at all.
Where do I find happiness?
I don’t blame you if by now you’re saying: “Stop, Elayna, and just answer the question! Where do I find happiness?”
True happiness is already yours.
True happiness lies within you.
True happiness is a choice.
You’ve probably heard this quote from Viktor Frankl before: “The last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.“
There’s nothing wrong with possessions or purchases, paychecks or profits, people, passions, pleasures, places, prizes, praise, pain avoidance, power, pity, and prominence or prestige…
In fact, when you choose to be happy in any circumstances, you start to attract all of these effortlessly and you will actually be able to soak them in and enjoy them, because you were happy to begin with.
It’s time to choose to be happy, no matter what conditions, situations, and circumstances arise, so you can truly enjoy your happiness!
Are you looking for happiness in all the wrong places? Forgive yourself and choose yourself!
And if you haven’t read my 12 simple ways to be happy, make sure you do that now and start over!
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM
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