My goal in life is to be happy

My goal in life is to be happy. But because #happiness is not something you can physically obtain, how are you going to pull it off?

Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan is a mental health blogger, published author, and speaker. He has appeared in numerous newspapers and has been a guest on many podcasts.

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What’s your ideas around #happiness? let us know in the comments.

Hey! What makes you happy? Have you reached all your goals and thus, found the holy grail of your life-long mission – happiness? If so, how does it feel to live in a state of perpetual happy?

Personally, I’m willing to wager that most of your answers were something like, “ell, no, I’ve never been happy 100% of the time.

But why is that? Well, I’m inclined to think that a human emotion, like happy, cannot be sustained. And no matter how many goals we tick off the old goals list, we will sometimes, be a mix of emotion anger, angst, sadness, and excitement. All of these things will be part of your journey – always.

Happiness according to science

So why then are we answering the question, “What is your main goal in life?” with “To be happy.”?

On the surface, it sounds like a wonderful thing to strive for, but is it? Furthermore, if we accept that happiness can’t be a perpetual state, what will that do for our, well, happiness?

In other words, accepting the feel-good emotion for what it is, a chemical reaction with its own ebb and flow, could cultivate a degree of acceptance.

From my point of view, this notion has some real validity to it. I think so, because what if you, for example, achieve a goal of becoming a doctor, a life-long dream, and yet, you’re not happy. Instead, you find yourself asking, “I have reached the top, so, why am I not happy?”

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Firstly, life doesn’t operate on a singularity. In this case, the life-long narrative that says, “My goal is to be happy.” Rather, there are a host of variables. Therefore, we need to ask ourselves the right questions.

Questions like, what factors can inhibit being more happy in life?” In my own view, happiness can be sustained but only in moments. Now, that’s not to say that you will experience more misery than happiness; it simply means, things manifest themselves in the now.

The Mental Illness angle

#mentalhealthconditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, rob one of moments that could otherwise bring immense joy. For example, a child’s first Christmas. Depression is a nasty illness that sucks away any mental energy one has. So, a parent with #deppression, for instance, can sit there in a state of exhausted sadness.

And like that of happiness where you expect it to be a constant, and thus, make you happier, being depressed on Christmas can make one even more sad.

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“Why can’t I feel any joy?” you ask yourself as you watch your little one squeal with delight as they tear through the gift wrap.

Then you feel the furnace of anger fire up, and now – you’re a hybrid of anger and sad.

“I’m never going to get over feeling this way!” You follow up with a “What’s the point?!”

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But then….. You feel the cold hands of your little darling. You can tell they are attempting to stand and using you to do it.

When you look down, they are holding the gift that you painfully hunted for; that gift that you knew they would love because they are obsessed with it.

Where before they were preoccupied with the Christmas wrap, they are now staring up at you with their big baby-like eyes. And as you lock eyes with your little one, you can’t help but notice it in their left hand.

With an underdeveloped shake, they use all their might to hold the gift up in one hand, steadying themselves with the other. They are working with all their might to show you their new treasure. whilst at the same time, a smile lights up their face.

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You pick up your little one and tear up at the site of their own elation.

And in that moment the mixed emotion of anger and sadness disappear and are replaced with unfettered joy. Without realizing it, you find yourself hugging your little one tight. Caught up by the moment, it’s only you, your child, and a sense of euphoria.

“Maybe I’m not such a miserable parent after all…?”

Somehow, in that moment, the love for your child was strong enough to break you free from your misery. And as a result, you too find yourself smiling.

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And finally, what I think is most important is that we embrace the moments of joy and happiness that do come along. As opposed to chasing a solid-state notion of a happy life.

While this is true for everyone, I think it’s especially true for those who have mental illness.

So, give yourself permission to soak in all that joy, for we’re never sure when we’ll feel it again. The only thing we really need to know, is that we will.

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Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental health blogger, S speaker, writer, and published author; He is also the host of the mental wellness podcast, #thewellnesstalks He has also appeared in the i'Mpossible's Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental health talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental health advocacy organization; Sick Not Weak. Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental wellness journey while helping others along the way. Educated as an addictions' counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years, working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness. He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community. His new book (2021), “The Road To Mental Wellness,” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one's life; right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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