I know you probably have heard the phrase “do what makes you happy” when it comes to career choices.
In fact, in many American university campuses, this phrase is all too popular.
It all boils down to an individual sense of freedom, possibility, and of course, happiness.
It’s very romantic. And, I agree that it does have a lot going for it.
It’s very appealing.
But is it realistic?
This is what we will attempt to answer in this article.
The sad reality is just like with any other kind of big questions in life, the answer is not a simple black and white choice.
It’s not a question of yes or no.
If you’re honest about it, the answer to the question, “Is ‘do what makes you happy’ great advice or not?” boils down to yes and no.
I know that sounds confusing. So, let me explain.
You will fail if you choose to coast
The reason why a lot of people think that doing what makes them happy is the best way to go through their life is that they think it’s easy.
After all, you’re already doing certain things and it makes you happy.
Well, let me tell you, I like making coffee at home, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to apply to become a barista, nor does it mean that I’m going to open my coffee project.
That’s just not going to happen. I don’t love coffee all that much. I like it, but it doesn’t arise to some sort of life passion.
Given this reality, it’s so easy for people to think that if they just stick with what makes them happy that they will eventually become successful.
It doesn’t work that way.
Just because you do something reasonably good or reasonably well, doesn’t mean that you’re good enough.
Remember, we live in a market economy.
So, if you’re a writer, you better be the best writer in a niche for you to be successful.
If you’re a singer, you must be the best in a genre of music for you to make real money.
Do you see where I’m coming from?
You can’t just say, well, I’m good at doing something like animation, and this means I will make money.
Sure, you’ll make money but it’s going to be chump change. If you want to make real money, you must decide to be the best.
This means sacrifice. This means self-discipline. This means going the whole nine yards.
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Don’t define your happiness based on what comes easy
By understanding the discussion above, what I’m about to say makes all the sense in the world.
If you want to be happy, don’t focus on what comes easy.
Seriously, great relationships are not relationships based on easy feelings.
When you meet somebody and seems like you just see eye to eye all the time, chances are your relationship is not going to grow.
Real relationships grow based on conflict, challenge, disagreement, and yes, even infidelity.
So, don’t think that just because certain things come easy to you that these are necessarily the sources of your life’s happiness.
You need to dig a little deeper.
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Real happiness comes from change and growth
If you look at people who are truly happy and who have no regrets in their life, what do they all have in common?
That’s right. They overcame many things.
And they began one way and they turned into completely different people.
In other words, they went through periods of change and growth.
I wish I could tell you that these periods are easy.
I wish I could tell you that they are very easy to navigate, and things are very easy to make sense.
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Unfortunately, if I were to say that I would be lying to you because for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly, it must go through a lot of challenges.
It must freeze.
It must go through the pain and the struggle of breaking out of a cocoon.
Worst of all, it must go through a pupa stage where it’s waiting for the big change to come.
If you’ve ever waited for anything, you know how much of a hassle this can be.
And therefore, real happiness cannot be measured in terms of what comes easy.
Instead, real happiness comes from your willingness to change and grow over time.
Talking of time, read this Importance of Time article to know more.
Overcoming hardship and sacrificing, bring maturity
The bottom line is that we all start with a tremendous amount of potential.
The world just opens to us because it’s so full of promise.
Life can be hard, yes, but not all the time.
When you look at a baby, that baby can become anybody that baby can become a doctor, a lawyer, a politician, a world leader, a business person, a business tycoon, or a drug addict, and that’s the power as well as the peril of potential and to make to turn potential into reality, and most importantly, mastery and competence requires sticking to a plan.
This requires waiting.
This requires playing the long game.
This involves having to sacrifice doing what comes easy and what is pleasurable to doing something hard and necessary.
Worse yet, you’re going to have to stick to that for a long, long time.
What stresses people out is that the reward isn’t guaranteed.
When you get to your supposed destination and may well turn out that there are a lot of people there and they’re all competing over the same real state.
What are you going to do in that situation?
Well, the thing that real successes do is something that they’re forced into.
They mature, they grow up.
And this is what constitutes real happiness is.
It has less to do with what we think it is and self-centered definition. Instead, real happiness means the willingness to sacrifice for somebody else.
Therefore, successful relationships change the moment a child is born into that relationship because at that point is no longer about what you want or what your partner wants.
It’s no longer about sex or pleasure.
It’s about sacrifice, comfort, going through the pain, going through the waiting process, and being patient.
Now, a lot of this sounds unpleasant, but if you’re a parent, and you have the love of a mother or a father, then you can see why the process has changed you and why you wouldn’t in a million years go back.
So, if you get all of this, then you would see that doing what makes you happy is very tricky because, at some level, it makes sense.
You must break past that to truly unlock its full potential.
And it all boils down to deriving happiness from challenges and the process of overcoming.