Are you caught in the happiness trap?

The search for happiness is a futile one. It’s something you can’t ever attain and so in the process of trying you end up feeling worse about yourself.

Sure there are things that bring us much happiness and we always want to be embracing more of that in our life every day. But, you should release expectations that it’s something you’ll eventually feel all the time.

Perhaps if we realized it was a transient emotion, not the end result, we might spend more time noticing the things that make us happy and diving into that emotion when it arrives.

{I spoke about it in this post here and here}

One would think that living your ultimate life travelling around Australia with your family and getting paid to do it would make you immensely happy every day. But, it doesn’t.

There are many days I’m tired and cranky, wondering what the hell I am doing. The other side often seems greener. Long term travel is challenging especially with kids. We do experience a lot of stress and negative times, BUT I have a deep level of fulfilment that keeps me on this path.

I understand the more meaningful path I’m striving towards. Because of that, I can manage and overcome the transient negative emotions when they arrive. [You ain’t ever gonna escape em!]

Ask yourself

How can I create a life that speaks from my heart, is meaningful, and mostly brings me happiness?

If you’re a parent you should understand this. You love your child with an intensity you never knew was possible and they often bring you much happiness. Yet at times, you’re ready for a glass of wine at 10am and you’re begging for your Mum to come rescue you for five minutes peace. The sleepless nights, the never ending battles and the constant guilt and worry pulls away at your happiness and you wonder why you signed up for this gig.

But, you’ll keep moving forth willingly because you understand the more meaningful and fulfilling path- LOVE. It trumps all.

Love celebrates the good and transcends the bad.

Live a life you LOVE, not one that necessarily brings you infinite happiness- the ultimate illusion.

I LOVED this definition I found in Dr Russ Harris book, The Happiness Trap. It is a MUST read and the best book I’ve ever read on mindfulness and happiness. You know when you read something and you feel as if someone has stolen the words from your heart and mind. This was it. I just wish I could articulate it as well as him.

The word happiness has two very different meanings. Usually it refers to a sense of pleasure, gladness or gratification. We all enjoy happy feelings, so it’s no surprise that we chase them. However, like all our other feelings, feelings of happiness don’t last. No matter how we try to hold on to them, they slip away every time. And as we shall sees, a life spent in pursuit of those feelings is, in the main, unsatisfying In fact, the harder we pursue pleasurable feelings, the more we are likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.

The other meaning of happiness is a “rich, full and meaningful life.’ When we take action on the things that truly matter deep in our hearts when we move in directions that we consider valuable and worthy, when we clarify what we stand for in life and act accordingly, then our lives become rich and full and meaningful and we experience a powerful sense of vitality. This is not some fleeting feeling- it is a profound sense of  life well lived. And although such a life will undoubtedly give us many pleasurable feelings, it will also give us uncomfortable ones, such as sadness, fear and anger. This is only to be expected If we live a full life, we will fell the full range of human emotions.

Do you have tingles now?

Yes. Yes. Yes. That fills me up completely.

Your Turn to Share Tips:

Do you know what that more meaningful path is for you? What are your struggles with it? How do you manage your transient emotions?

posted in: Empowerment
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  • Kylah (@Zest e-Biz)

    I loved The Happiness Trap! I read it a couple of years ago and I think it was one of the most important books for me that influenced my thoughts and actions about trying to ‘find’ happiness. I have the sequel The Confidence Gap sitting beside my bed that I am dying to start reading, but I have about 8 other books to finish first.

    Since becoming more aware of the moments or situations in life where I feel more fulfilled and happy, I have been able to focus on creating more situations like that. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book ‘Flow’ also helped me immensely to enjoy the journey more by creating a one that brings more opportunities for ‘flow’ and ultimately fulfilment and happiness.

    I used to have more of a roller coaster of emotions, but after reading these two books I become much more aware of my ‘triggers’ and now live slightly more in balance. That’s not to say that I don’t experience frustration, sadness, anxiety and stress. I think anyone with a toddler (or multiple kids which I found out is so much worse this week) would understand that.

    You’ve nailed the key point though, for me living a more purposeful life now leads to more fulfilment and happiness.


    • Caz Makepeace

      Multiple kids is a whole new ball game!! That’s why I don’t reach to far to clutch onto the happiness bottle!!! Thanks for recommending those two books. I didn’t realize he had a sequel. They are on my list to read!


  • Elle

    This is a great post and topic I have read a lot about at the moment. This year for me is about finding joy and gratitude in each and everyday and it has been interesting to notice that often the hardest, darkest days come after the highest, happiest days. It’s like our bodies know on a chemical level that feelings of pleasure, gladness or gratification are not sustainable on their own.
    I am working hard to focus more on the second kind of happiness (and I tend to think about joy more as happiness seems to me more short lived).
    Thank you for sharing!


    • Caz Makepeace

      Yes. I think joy is more of that higher emotion that probably is more prevalent when you are living that fulfilled life. So you can still have that joy present, even though their might be interspersing moments of happiness and sadness. I can get those wild swings now, but I’m so much more in control of the down moments now as I understand they seem to be peeling away another layer to bring forth the better days. I tend to cry and rage it out (in my own space) and then we’re all clear to move forward again,


  • Fiona Worrall

    Hi Caz,
    Loving your posts and the sharing of your journey. Russ Harris’ books are fabulous and another author and speaker I’ve seen is Robert Holden. He is a delightful English guy who did his Ph.D. on Happiness! I’m sure you’d love his work too. Hope all is well and keep on living the dream!! xx


    • Caz Makepeace

      Hi Fiona! So great to see you on here and thanks for the tip. I’m going to check him out. I know I can trust your advice, you’ve lead me to some great teachers! Ho’pono’pono is still in my world!


      • Fiona Worrall

        Thank you lovely lady. Ho’oponopono a fantastic healing method for sure. Just finished reading another book on that by Ulrich E. Dupree. It was just a little book that really explained things well and particularly what is going on with the 4 Ho’oponopono statements.
        Robert Holden is amazing! I saw him twice, at the I Can Do It conferences. wonderful and amusing speaker. enjoy! xx


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