We are not happy. It seems every day a new book, blog post or article appears with how we can make ourselves happy. We’re too busy, stressed and generally unhappy; or so it seems.
Happiness is the goal – and the means to this goal seem endless. We need to be mindful, eat right, do yoga, exercise, but also keep ourselves busy every day (ikigai anyone?) The list is endless. We are running around like idiots, reading tons of self-help books but we don’t seem to be getting any closer to our goal. Happiness. And I have a theory as to why that is.
We don’t strive for happiness
Exactly. Many of us don’t really want to be happy. Not right now, anyway. Happiness is something we strive for in the future. After we get all of our learning, growing and hard work out of the way that will ensure future happiness. I am exactly the same and I realized the other day that although I have many peaceful, happy days I don’t really want to be at peace or perfectly happy right now. Because that means I am done; complete. That means I have achieved everything I wanted to achieve.
Instead I want to be restless. I love my restlessness. I love that I keep going, keep dreaming, and keep thinking about what I could do next. I love that rush I get when I go to bed at night and all my dreams and plans flash through my mind. I get so restless and so excited that I can’t fall asleep. I am sure every mindful person would tell me this is unhealthy and wrong – it means I don’t ‘live in the now’ and don’t enjoy the present moment. It means I am focusing too much on the future, which may never arrive, and not on everything I already have.
What they are missing
I’d like to tell these people that they are wrong. I read ‘The Power of Now’ and I enjoyed it, agreed with most of it, but I decided I can’t (and won’t) live by it. The book scares me a little – it makes me imagine a world where everyone is completely content, peaceful and happy. Where are the dreamers? Where are the game changers? Where are the activists, the ambitious people, and the free-fallers who change the world? I want to be part of that group. I want to stay restless – at least a little longer.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that happiness is not the goal. Not right now. Happiness means being at peace and I am not at peace, nor do I want to be. I don’t believe that peaceful people can make waves. I don’t believe that peaceful people can have big dreams. Dreaming big makes you restless – if not, those dreams aren’t big at all. By the way – being restless is exactly what makes me happy. That probably won’t always be the case – but right now it is. I have the energy, I want to move forward and I want to keep growing. And that’s never going to be a peaceful process.
I want to stay restless
I read a lot of self-help books and I think I get it – which is why I wrote this blogpost today. I get what we should be striving for – but I also understand that for many of us this is not the goal. I have a friend (an ambitious, restless one may I add) who simply can’t do yoga. He tried. He understands that it’s healthy and good to slow down – but he simply can’t. When people tell him to shut down and stand still he can feel his engine burning a hole in this chest. He.can’t.slow.down. So my opinion is that he isn’t meant to. Not yet.
So I’m going to vouch for restlessness. It may not be healthy, or peaceful, or mindful but it’s the kind of life I want to live right now. I don’t want to look back on a peaceful life, I want to look back on a full life. A hectic life, filled with choices, changes, mistakes, failures and many, many waves. I’m going to stay restless a little while longer and realize that this may impact my overall well-being, happiness and peacefulness, but I am okay with that. I may live in the future a little more than in the present, but I am okay with that too. Because those future imaginings are what make me want to get up in the morning – they are what makes my life worth living.