23 Apr Stop Chasing Accolades and Start Chasing Joy
First job. First car. College graduation. First new car. Get married. Grad school. Career. Buy first home. Climb the corporate ladder. Corner Office. Bigger house. Luxury car(s). etc.
It seems that we young Americans have confused the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of accolades and material wealth. Somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that these things are happiness, that being able to purchase these things equate to joy. Unfortunately, not only is this not true, but it’s a poisonous philosophy that will lead us to a life unfulfilled and unsatisfied, and worst of all still not happy.
Why is that? Because while accolades punctuate a happy and fulfilling life, they do not themselves bring joy. Your new car won’t make life more enjoyable. My fancy watch doesn’t make me happier. Of course, there is the feeling of high when you first accomplish or purchase something. But give it the time-test: after a certain amount of time (specific to the accomplishment or purchase) will it improve your life? Some do, but most don’t.
How about some examples? Upgrading from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5s probably wont improve your life, much. Being the first college graduate in your family, however, has a much more significant value with regards to raising your family’s status and furthering your success. Getting to the corner office is more likely going to bring you stress than joy.
When I think about thoughts one would have on their deathbed, it helps me to understand what direction I should take for a good life. Nobody has ever said “I wish I had a bigger house” or “I wish I would have bought that Ferrari” on their deathbeds. But people do regret not spending time with family, not taking time for themselves, etc. People regret not chasing joy, but never seem to regret not chasing more accolades.So it seems that to have an extremely joyous and happy life, all you need to do is know what makes you happy. What kinds of things bring you pure joy? Take 2 minutes and create a list. I’ll do the same.
Things That Bring Me Pure Joy
- Warm sunshine on my skin
- A jog or bike ride with my wife
- Writing something thoughtful or insightful
- Learning new skills
- Creating something original
- Paintball battles
- Throwing a Frisbee with friends
- Relaxing on a white sandy beach
- Helping others achieve their success
- Teaching useful skills to others
- Being a leader
- Taking photos
- Learning piano, guitar, and singing
- Designing graphics
- Hearing happy music
- Making people laugh
That’s as far as I got in 2 minutes. It’s an interesting list. Not in and of itself, but when considered with a list of things I want to accomplish in my life and things that I think are important. None of my accomplishments or things I think are important would include these. And yet, I have spent so much time thinking about accomplishments and devote very little time to these. These, the things that would make me the most happy, and which cost next to nothing and require little or no planning, get the least amount of my time.
If you do the things on your list more often than I do, you’re already ahead.You see, it’s not the diplomas on the wall or the cars in the driveway that make us happy. It’s the simple things. And we know that. But we trick ourselves into thinking we need more, just a little more, always a little more, and then we’ll be happy.You don’t need more to be happy. You can have it all right now. Today even. Think of this list as your to-do list and you’ll be well on your way to the real good life. And in the end, isn’t that what we all really want?
Go forth and chase joy!