If someone you greatly admired said to you “(insert your name here) you don’t need to improve or strive for another thing in your life, you’re now at the perfect point in everything. All you need to do now is maintain it, relax and ENJOY having what you’ve got!’
What would be your reaction? Would you feel shocked? relieved? angry? Or perhaps a combination of these and more?
So at what point in our lives (if ever) can we pull up and stop striving and struggling to get ourselves to ‘our’ next level of accomplishment?
I don’t know the answer (obviously) but I do sometimes think that we slogging and striving for more, because we think this is going to make us happier! Does it really though?
Take a look at this interesting study that shows a surprising (or not so surprising) finding:
In studying happiness, psychologists did a simple survey of a large group of people. These people were given ‘pagers’ and when these beeped, everyone had to stop and write down 2 things:
1. How happy are you at this moment (scale from 1-10)?
2. What has been the reason?
After gathering many people’s recordings from all walks of life, ages and other differences, the discovery was very clear, very surprising and pretty boring!
Just about everybody wrote a ‘7’ (no matter what was going on for them.)
Buying a daily coffee, going to the grocery store, talking to the boss about a win they had that day… or it’s Friday! The number was always a good old seven.
Even when horrible things happen in their lives – child gets sick, trouble with mortgage repayments, house gets burgled – there would be a low in happiness levels for a short time of around 2-5, then after some time, happiness would bounce back up to a 7 again.
Really exciting positive events would have the same thing happen. Dream holidays, winning a car, getting married, getting pregnant – people’s happiness would shoot up for a short amount of time, then after a while return back to a 7.
These studies show that nobody is totally happy or totally unhappy all of the time.
It’s funny though… it doesn’t matter what is going on for us, humans live their lives in a pretty constant ‘not fully-satisfied state of happiness.’ It’s like things are ‘fine’ but could be better.
Our brain is tricking us all the time therefore. It’s saying ‘if you could just reach this goal, you’d be a 10 of happiness all the time!’ So we’re always chasing this phantom 10, by striving for MORE, oblivious to the fact that we went to a 7 pretty quickly after our last ‘great achievement.’
We’re constantly chasing our dreams and goals, and we always think that this ‘thing’ is going to be IT this time! That new job or business, new house, new man, new beach holiday.
It might go something like this…
While we’re on the long awaited sunny beach holiday, lying back on a deck chair we’re thinking ‘what I need right now is nice fruity cocktail!… Can’t anyone get a cocktail around here?” And so we start stressing about not having any service and we believe that a cocktail will definitely give us 10. But you know… then we have a second cocktail (because they’re so nice!) and a third and then before we know it (well you know how it goes.) We wake up with a hangover and we’re at a poorly but solid 3.
But oh well not to worry, we know we’ll be back to a seven soon anyway.
In all seriousness though, maybe if we could just enjoy what we have RIGHT NOW and spend our energies SIMPLIFYING our lives rather than striving for MORE at every turn, maybe this would get us to our long term 10!
We could breathe better, sleep better, eat better and have that sense of peace that is rarely described by anyone in this day and age.
Thinking outside the square of the rat race may just be IT. Society certainly doesn’t suggest we do this, but much of society is also very sick and very stressed!
Could this be how we reach our 10?
If you think this could help some of your stressed out friends or loved ones, please share this post. It might be just the thing that helps them see outside their square.
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