We live in an age of endless possibilities. We have the ability to do and be most anything we want–What I mean is, we can literally be anything we want instead of being constrained by a socially accepted list of choices. Why then, do so many people find themselves living a life they don’t want to? Why are there so many people resorting to living the status quo and nothing more? Once we truly realize there isn’t anything stopping us but ourselves, we become the masters of our own happiness.
My brother recently turned me on to a book called, “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. The book explains an entrepreneurially-focused idea of beginning your business with, “Why?” Sinek expounds upon this notion to encompass all aspects of the company–to use this ideology when making decisions, expanding markets, building morale, etc. It’s worth a read for anyone interested in starting a company. I had a different take-away. I want to see if I could use this type of logic when it comes to everyday life and how it can be utilized to find purpose and happiness. It led me to question why I started this blog. Why do I think people need to have access to this sort of information? After considering it, I think the best answer I could come up with is I want people to realize we don’t have to accept what is given to us. The status quo isn’t what we should be striving for. The social ideals we have about what brings us happiness are wrong; if they weren’t, we wouldn’t see more and more people unhappy even though we have more wealth, free time, and connectedness than ever. We have the power to take our life into our own hands and do whatever we want with it. We get to decide how to find our own happiness.
The real root of it all is we need to challenge the world we live in, constantly. I find myself challenging almost everything. It’s not because I have trust issues, it’s not because I’m being an asshole, it’s because I refuse to believe things at face value. There is absolutely no reason to think everything has only one perfect way of working. For everything in life, there are multiple possibilities and finding one’s happiness is no exception. We are genetically pre-determined to have a certain amount of resiliency. Many people equate this to how much someone is capable of being happy. In a scientific article by Lykken and Tellegen, they say genes only account for about 50% of this influence. Environment makes up another 10%. The rest is us. Knowing how complex we are as a species, I can’t imagine it is as simple as this. What it does tell me, is we constantly have decisions to make which may go against what our brain tells us. We have the ability to actively determine our reactions to the things around us. We control whether we view the world as positive or negative. We determine who we allow to be in our lives. We have an endless number of paths laid out before us and it’s up to us whether we choose the paths that lead to happiness and purpose.
I think this is why my favorite principle in algebra is proofs. With a proof, you’re given the solution and you need to come up with a series of steps one could use to reach the same solution. Some paths are longer than others, but they all use the same principles. Let’s say our final solution is to find happiness. If we understand we can reach this solution via more than one ideal path, we begin to see exactly the point of all of this. Knowing that each step we take has a purpose and fits into a list of steps all directed towards happiness, we allow ourselves to live our most fulfilling and happy lives.
At no point in time are we forced to follow the path causing us anxiety. At no point in time are we limited to a path taken by others. If the step you’re taking doesn’t end up resulting in happiness, reevaluate and see if there is another way. If you find a path that makes others question their own, you may just be doing it the way it’s supposed to be done. It won’t always be the easiest way. You need to be able to differentiate positive stress from anxiety.
Most importantly, you must be unwaveringly focused on the your goals. Living a life with meaning and purpose exceeds the status quo. We owe it to ourselves to challenge what we’re told and follow whichever path allows us to find happiness.
A version of this post was previously published on gofindyourhappy.net and is republished here with permission from the author.
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