Happiness Is A Liar

by | Sep 20, 2023 | Latest Essays

When I was a younger version of myself, I was jamming to Bon Jovi tracks, air-guitaring my way to stardom. The dream? Rockstar. The reality? A cacophony that some kindly likened to a drunken monkey in a garage full of trash cans. So, needless to say, the billboard charts remain untouched by my musical genius. Fast forward two later years, and another dream saw me gamble my life’s happiness. The result? Close, but no cigar.

I was in a funk for a time—some would even call it depression. My path seemed strewn with emotional landmines, each step riskier than the last. Yet, in this very period of stumbling I learned a life-altering lesson: Happiness is a Liar. Specifically, I’m talking about the seductive “if-then” happiness—the conditional happiness trap.

As you read this, if it feels like you’re staring in the mirror, you’re welcome to join the club of those ensnared by counterfeit happiness.  Why? Because most of us have bought into a problematic belief—that happiness is conditional. We’re on this never-ending treadmill, chasing external situations and material gains, only to be shocked when they don’t deliver lasting satisfaction.

Let’s break it down. Conditional happiness is a double-edged sword that cuts deep:

  • We reach outward, trying to grasp control over uncontrollable situations, while neglecting what we can control.
  • We spend our lives gazing into a future that may or may not arrive, missing out on the richness of the present—where life happens.

In this paradigm, we willingly relinquish our agency to fate, living our lives as if awaiting a lottery ticket to pay off. This is madness! What are we even doing?

The crux of the issue is control. But control is a smoke and mirrors game. The minute you think you’ve seized it, it evaporates. And when the joy we sought finally arrives? It’s fleeting, leaving us nursing a happiness hangover, wondering why life still feels incomplete.

Why this relentless pursuit of control? At its root, control serves as a stand-in for security, a basic need near the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy. We want to dictate our financial situation, social standing, and even other people’s thoughts about us.

And yet, the hard truth is that we can’t control these elements. So, what are we doing if we need to engage in a masterclass of self-sabotage? How many life moments are we wasting in the waiting room of conditional happiness?

In the movie Don’t Look Up, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, faced with the certainty of impending doom, says, “We really did have it all, didn’t we?” What if we could recognize that right now?

Here’s my challenge to you: What if we flipped the script? What if we sought control over our reactions, over our inner worlds? Isn’t the ultimate control the freedom to choose how you react to uncontrollable circumstances?

Remember, authentic happiness isn’t about getting what you want; it’s about wanting what you’ve got. As Epictetus declared, “Happiness has all that it wants.”

So, let’s shift our perspective. Instead of viewing happiness as an endless chase, see it as a moment—a pinprick of light in the vast universe of experience. Take back the reins and recognize your power: the power to choose how you respond to whatever life throws your way.

And guess what? That newfound perspective brought me to a space where I realized that everything I once thought happened to me was actually happening for me. Now, I’ve got everything I never knew I always wanted. And that, my friends, is my version of happiness.

7 Pillar Worksheet

The uneasy feeling you keep ignoring won't go away. You're living a life that's unworthy of your unique purpose, and you realize you've got to do something.  Where do you start?

Download the CONQUER CULTURE 7 PILLAR WORKSHEET and launch a 3-step process to ignite your personal reclamation.

7 Pillar Worksheet
My Biggest Challenges