Models of Happiness
When I ask myself, what is happiness, I’m not sure I can answer the question. I figure it probably has something to do with my general satisfaction with life. Am I looking for tips and tricks to make me happier? Are tips and tricks a way to become happier? Am I trying to raise my base level of happiness (whatever that might mean!)? And does that require a significant shift in my way of thinking?
Maybe I’m not ready to ask that question quite yet. But, after reading The Art of Happiness, I couldn’t stop thinking about this connection between compassion and happiness. The Dalai Lama said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” This notion of being compassionate towards each other, as a path towards happiness, rang true to me.
The Dalai Lama also says that happiness is a process, not a goal. This idea was something I needed to think about further. I’ve always pursued goals, thinking this was the way to happiness.
When Happiness is an End
When I started writing, I always looked forward to the end. Whenever I set out on a new project, I had some idea of what I wanted to accomplish when I released a new book. After months of slogging through the ups and downs of writing, I found it difficult to enjoy what I was doing. I wanted to get to the end.
As a result, my work suffered. The writing wasn’t always as good as it should have been because I didn’t put enough care and effort into the project. My writing suffered because I didn’t find enjoyment in the process of my work as much. Instead of embracing what I was doing at the time, I rushed to get to the goal.
Then, when I reached the end, I released these barely passable books. Thinking it would be fine, I published. But, these books flopped.
So, I didn’t enjoy the writing process with the hopes that the goal would make it worthwhile. But the goal, a published book, failed to reach my expectations. The cycle left me deflated. I’ve missed every opportunity to make myself happy because I couldn’t find happiness in the process.
Happiness as a Process
Since contemplating what might improve my happiness, I’ve decided to try to embrace the process. It’s partly the reason that I’ve started this Joyful project. As I write a novel about finding happiness, I want to think about all aspects of happiness. I hope to embrace the process of my work more than the end product.
As part of the process, I look forward to having conversations about happiness and compassion. “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Admittedly, I have some work to do. I haven’t always been a compassionate person, but I can be. I believe most of us have room for a little more empathy.
Besides, embracing the process is so important. It’s most of what we’re doing. So, it’s essential to find happiness in the everyday. If not, those brief moments of joy when we reach the goal won’t seem worth much.