Can You Afford To Be Happy?

happinessEven if you’ve never asked yourself this question, you’ve lived it. You’ve thought about it. Chances are good that you’ve either blocked it out or it tortures you every day.

It’s the age old battle between making a living and making a life. The first can bring you money, material goods, and a sense of security. The latter gives you depth, a sense of purpose, and fulfillment. There’s a roadmap, a linear path to making a living. Trouble is there’s no user manual that can be consulted enroute to making a life.

 

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

There was a time when the answer to this question was influenced by what you enjoyed, what you dreamt about. Of course there’s no wrong answer, but your answer was something that you couldn’t imagine not doing. Naturally, without a second thought, your job would make you happy. You’d do work that you loved. You’d be so engrossed in your labor that you’d fight to stay awake to continue working. Or maybe you were so enthralled that you didn’t sleep at all. You’d forget to eat. Work and happiness were synonymous and it would always be this way.

Unfortunately somewhere along the line your answer underwent a transformation. Where once you were concerned with passion, now you’re only interested in being practical. You CHOSE to build a life around a definition of success that was socially acceptable; school, salary, spouse, status. The words and feelings that influenced your childhood vision of work and career disappeared. Your full force was devoted towards earning, in many forms; credentials, a promotion, a raise, a title, acceptance. In the process you forgot to cultivate the things that really mattered; passion, purpose, personal values, gratitude, mindfulness.

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life. ― John Lennon

 

Can We Afford Not To Be Happy?

That’s the real question we should be asking ourselves.

It’s no secret that money can’t buy happiness. Happiness must be earned. That means we have to work at it. You could say that our real job is to make ourselves happy. Of course this isn’t about laughter and being lighthearted, although those things contribute to overall happiness. No, happiness in this sense is identifying our personal values and creating a life around them. One that enforces that value set instead of compromising it at every turn.

Choosing happiness, opting to make a life not simply a living is a conscious decision. It’s one that is none of us can afford to live without. That, like most things, is easier said than done. In his epic commencement speech, This is Water, David Foster Wallace characterized this awareness and choice this way, “It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhhC_N6Bm_s]

But, in another work, he wrote that it is possible…

If you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary

decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable

as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves. To treat ourselves the way

we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we

absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve

that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do it.

 

Empty Words

It’s quite possible that all of these words are starting to sound more and more cliche. We’ve heard it all before. But, true happiness is a pipedream. We can’t exist in the real world with a level of happiness reserved for childhood, can we?

Leave it to someone much younger than us adults to explain happiness more eloquently than I ever could.

Thirteen year old Logan LePlante is hacking way through school to do something that really matters to him; being happy.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY]

As it turns out, achieving happiness isn’t as hard as we may think, but it is a choice.

Can you make a life and a living? Tell us how you’ve done it.

About Joe Vennare

Joe is the co-founder of Hybrid Athlete where he writes, instructs and speaks about all things fitness. But, there’s more to him than just exercise, so he moonlights as a writer, bookworm and self-professed knowledge addict. For more, follow his business and fitness escapades on Twitter, @JoeVennare

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