Why seeking happiness may be making you unhappy

“I just want to be happy.”

A supportive relationship, good friends, work that doesn’t suck the life out of you, a decent income.  Is that so much to ask?

And yet, no matter how hard we try, happiness is woven between loneliness, frustration, worry and, let’s not forget, exhaustion. We were raised to believe that we should strive for “happiness.”  But what if we’ve been chasing the wrong dream?

Somewhere along the way we came up with the idea that if we get all the pieces of our lives together just so, we’ll be happy. And further, that once things come together they’ll stay together and we’ll be happy all the time.

Then to complicate matters even more, we now live in a chaotic world that’s streamed live to our phones on a moment to moment basis. Here we are, trying to arrange our happy lives amidst a backdrop of global upheaval. It’s like trying to have a picnic in the middle of a hurricane.

Maybe we need to re-think happiness.

Thinking we should be happy but not being happy just adds to the stress. So, let’s rethink this.

We all want to be happy but, realistically, not everything will make us happy. Some things will make us sad. Some will make us think. Some will make us want to change them. Instead of happiness, what if we aim for peace – inner peace.  

With inner peace, I can be disappointed by a relationship and still be at peace in myself. I can be troubled by world affairs and still understand that this is the nature of the world right now. I can want to change something and still accept that it’s not changed yet. In this way, we can have some control in an out of control world.

Just maybe, inner peace is the new happiness.

How do we cultivate inner peace? Here are a few thoughts.

1) Keep it simple

Remember you’re having a picnic in a hurricane. Maybe less side dishes and balloons. In other words, uncomplicate your life. Do less, buy less, pare down. Eliminate the non-essentials. Less details, less stress.

2) Come inside

In a storm, get to the storm cellar. Give yourself permission to retreat once in a while. Stay home. Take a breath. Do nothing. Give yourself a media break. Let your mind and heart re-set.

3) Practice acceptance

Acceptance is not giving in. It’s seeing clearly what’s right in front of you. No denial. No illusions. You don’t have to like it. You just have to accept that this is what’s happening for now. This too shall pass.

4) Consider timing

The crazier life gets, the harder we try to keep everything together. But what if there is a right time for things to end, to fall apart, to be dismantled? Instead of desperately trying to keep everything together, listen to your gut. Maybe something falling apart is exactly right.

5) You are a superhero

Some days, just getting out of bed can take courage. So many demands, non-stop decisions, and everything happening at mind-shattering speed. At the end of the day, try making a list all the “villains” you vanquished that day. Bills paid, meals made, assignments done. Then take off your cape and let yourself fall into a restful sleep. You earned it.

No one wants to give up on happiness. Nor should we. Pursuing inner peace is just another way of arriving at “happy.” Seeking inner peace, we find contentment. In contentment we find happiness.

The path to inner peace begins by surrendering to what is. What have you been resisting, and how would your life be different if you accepted it – for now?


Anna Francesca Celestino is a highly intuitive coach, emotional healer, author, and creator of The Shift System: Shortcuts to a Life You Love. She spent years on her “path”, and now applies her experience to create fast tracks for others like The Emotional Workout. It uses six simple questions to cut through emotional roadblocks and get to more supportive relationships, more fulfilling work and a more authentic life quicker. Download your free copy of TEW now.

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