The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness

Rising up in small-town Iowa, I used to be near my grandmother. Our relationship, nevertheless, was removed from a textbook model.

As an alternative of studying methods to bake pies, embellish cookies, or weave quilts, I discovered methods to store. We’d stroll Des Moines malls for hours, retiring solely as soon as the load of the stuff-filled luggage in our arms had almost worn blisters on our palms.

Trying again now, I do know my grandmother had a compulsive purchasing dysfunction. Round six % of adults in the USA do. It’s described because the compulsion to spend cash, no matter want or monetary means. And spend cash she did.

All three of her houses have been adorned with each design aspect and her expansive closets have been filled with name-brand garments—90% of which nonetheless had the tags on them.

Grandma modeled many constructive qualities, like unceasing kindness and utmost respect for others. However by means of our purchasing journeys, I used to be studying an vital lesson—extra stuff equaled extra happiness, or so this publicity firmly led me to imagine.

I carried this mindset into my 20s and early 30s, amassing a myriad of stuff—all within the pursuit of happiness. However I by no means may fairly discover the possession that delivered full contentment.

Dwelling a minimalist way of life for the previous three years has fully overturned this consumer-driven mindset. I’ve discovered how little I truly must be joyful and that happiness doesn’t come from my stuff.

Fact is, we’re all pursuing happiness. And although not all instances are as excessive as my grandmother’s, many people reside in a cycle of placating our discontentment with possessions. Or wealth. Or success. Or magnificence. Or no matter else society says will ship happiness.

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Joshua Becker, in his new book Things That Matter, calls these pursuits “happiness lifeless ends”—issues our tradition guarantees will make us joyful, which science discloses don’t.

Whereas society assures arriving at happiness stems from searching for oneself, a better look proves in any other case:


Whereas all of us want some sum of money and materials possessions to satisfy our primary wants, the buildup of wealth doesn’t promise happiness.

Becker cites a College of California examine that exposed amassing wealth tends to make individuals much less beneficiant and extra remoted. Generosity and relational connectedness are precursors of happiness—wealth diminishes each. Regardless of what our tradition claims, our pursuit of happiness isn’t glad by materials riches.


Does reaching fame and success solidify contentment? Observing celebrities and influencers on social media makes us assume, sure. Once more, science says no.

Becker highlights a College of Rochester New York examine that confirmed faculty graduates who attained wealth and fame-related objectives post-graduation have been much less joyful than those that achieved intrinsic objectives reminiscent of private progress. Those that strived for fulfillment reported feeling they have been residing their lives in predetermined methods. The individuals who centered on private progress, relationships, and serving to locally reported important will increase in life satisfaction, well-being, and happiness. Fame isn’t the place happiness is discovered.

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Certainly magnificence guarantees happiness? The $60 billion greenback magnificence business would say so. Science wouldn’t.

Becker discusses a Psychology As we speak article beauty surgical procedure and happiness. Investing in cosmetic surgery doesn’t truly make individuals really feel higher about themselves—tummy tucks and nostril jobs don’t deal with underlying points like low vanity, despair, or unhappiness. One examine adopted 1,500 teenage ladies for 13 years, not figuring out which might endure beauty surgical procedure. Those that did have surgical procedure have been extra prone to be concerned or depressed than those that didn’t. Perfecting our bodily look doesn’t promise happiness.

If self-centered pursuits of happiness fall quick, what does science help? Servanthood.


Whereas all of us have to apply self-care with the intention to finest serve others, adopting a mindset of “selfless residing” finest prepares us for a lifetime of elevated which means and happiness.

In Becker’s personal Issues That Matter survey, nearly all of individuals (60%) reported discovering better pleasure in serving to others than in fulfilling their very own needs. A College of Pittsburgh examine carried out mind scans on individuals who selected to assist others and on individuals who selected to do one thing to profit themselves. Those that selected service confirmed elevated exercise within the mind’s reward facilities and decreased exercise in areas associated to elevated stress, blood strain, and irritation.

If you wish to enhance your happiness and life satisfaction ranges, the reply lies in habitually trying outdoors your self. Why not conduct your individual experiment and see?

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Pause a second and ask your self how you may serve at present. It might be so simple as cheering up a pal with a cellphone name or inviting your aged neighbor out for ice cream. Or, it might be extra concerned, reminiscent of tutoring in a faculty or serving meals to the homeless.

Happiness, Becker says, isn’t one thing to pursue in any respect, however relatively one thing that ensues by residing a lifetime of goal. After we make others-focused selections, happiness naturally involves us.

The subsequent time you want a happiness enhance, resist turning to retail remedy (like I so usually did), striving for fulfillment, or investing in your bodily look. As an alternative, look past your self, see a necessity, and meet it.

As Becker says, by serving others and pursuing a lifetime of goal, “The life you modify simply could also be your individual.”

For extra steering and inspiration on methods to reside a significant life—with only a few regrets—and reside out your true goal on the earth, I extremely suggest trying out Becker’s new book Things That Matter. (Out at present!)

Concerning the Creator: Julia Ubbenga is a contract journalist whose teachings on minimalism, simplicity, and intentional residing have reached hundreds of individuals worldwide by means of her weblog Julia practices what she preaches in her Kansas Metropolis dwelling along with her husband, two extraordinarily full of life younger daughters, and one-year-old son.

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