The Perplexing Paradox of Happiness

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Hunting for Happiness

We might think of happiness as something to work towards, something achieved when we land that ideal job or move into that perfect house. Modern society has defined those as the fundamental metrics to a successful life after all. But even should we attain those things, happiness may yet elude us. Happiness—fulfillment—isn’t a destination. It’s an active, conscious experience, living moment to moment.

With ever-increasing stressors beleaguering us each day, from rising inflation to shortages of goods and even housing, making our happiness reliant upon circumstances beyond our control won’t end with us grasping that chalice of fulfillment. While a dream job or a perfect house might all be wonderful, we should not demand that those things become the key ingredients to our happiness.

Tony Ewing, CEO of management consulting firm Conquer Risk, conveys that happy people do not chase happiness. Instead, they live in the moment, enjoying what can be found in daily pauses of appreciation and reflection. A review published by the Association for Psychological Science determined that the pursuit of happiness results not in its discovery, but in its absence. Spending our days hunting for happiness can instead find us approaching disappointment and depression.

In this video, Doctor Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., creator of Harvard’s ground-breaking course on positive psychology, discusses the paradox of pursuing happiness. By taking a magnifying glass to things we want but don’t have, we risk focusing on disappointment—we risk seeing only a glass half-empty.

To glimpse that cup from the other side—the full side–look not at what’s lacking from our lives, but at what’s present in our lives. Psychologist Lisa Merlo advocates redefining how we measure fulfillment in this TED Talk Happiness is found not in material possessions—not in the leather seats of a Lamborghini or the endless expanse of a mansion–but in our everyday casual experiences. Happiness blossoms in the things we do and in the people we do them with—engaging conversation, the smell of hot coffee, a loved one’s hug.

Today, pause and consider the moments that fill us with the warmth of happiness, with little rewarding bursts of enjoyment and fulfillment. Pause to consider the glass half full.

“Real success means creating a life of meaning through service that fulfills your reason for being here.”
– Oprah Winfrey

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