Chasing happiness works, until it no longer does. I’ve written a lot about how you should make changes to your lifestyle based on how happy the change would make you (as you envision it), but I wonder if I’ve instructed you to chase a rainbow, because once you change perspective from your current location on the way to your perceived happy end, not only does your existing happiness level change, but also the happiness you would now receive from your end goal. Chasing happiness, it turns out, is the same as trying to put a strangle hold on a T-1000 terminator, or trying to keep a beanbag chair in a fixed position. It is forever changing shape, and the harder you squeeze, the more it shifts within your grasp.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t achieve, but trying to catch an emotion and then hold that emotion in a capsule as if frozen in time is an impossible task. When you account for the adaption to your happiness level, whatever you do catch will escape from you not long after you grab it.
Let me give you a contrary indicator why chasing happiness is a poor idea: American women are obsessed with it. Everything in their life, which may include trampling on your happiness, is done so they are happy at all times. To them, happiness should be a permanent condition that never wanes. The doors of happiness should have steel locks. You want to have the same goal as these women, where surveys consistently show they are less happy than a generation ago? I’m starting to believe the mere goal of chasing happiness is a guarantee of unhappiness, especially when your prediction of what you think will make you happy oftentimes doesn’t match the result, as I’ve learned in life.
So what do you do? What can guide you in life to help you make the right decisions on what direction to take? I ask myself two questions:
1. What type of man do I want to be?
Regardless of how happy I’ll be when I get to a destination, I need to be able to look in the mirror and feel dignity, pride, and accomplishment, that regardless if I’m going through a tough time or an easy time, I am who I want to be and can live or die as is.
I want to be an intelligent man, a cultured man, a man who sleeps with beautiful women, and a man who helps his fellow man. I can’t tell you for certain that being an intelligent man will make me happy, but that’s what I want to see when I look in the mirror. Every day through my work, my studies, my leisure, and my actions, I become the man who I want to be.
2. What experience do I want to have first?
Life often throws two options at you that seem to have equal payoffs. Even when you do a cost-benefit analysis, you still can’t identify the superior option. When this happens, simply ask yourself which experience you rather have. You will then pick the option that may give less obvious and immediate happiness, but one which will make you look forward to each day, ready to give your best.
I’m often faced with many options on which country to hit next, made more difficult with the online noise of stories and data sheets. The benefits and weaknesses of one country over another seem to cancel themselves out perfectly. So how do I pick? I pick the country that, if I were to die soon, I would want to experience first before my end arrives. It may not make me happy, and it probably isn’t the easier option, but I’ll more eager to wake every day when I’m there.
I will not fault you if your life strategy is chasing happiness. It’s better than chasing pain or having no strategy at all. But as a man who has been chasing happiness for most of his adult life, I can assure you that there will be no treasure at the end of your rainbow, no matter how many continents you explore and how much pussy you slay. Look at your reflection instead. Study it and ask yourself what type of man you want to see staring back at you. Ask yourself which experiences are urgent for you to have in case of a premature death. These two questions will guide you and make you the best man you can be.
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