The Consequence of Not Pursuing Happiness

If we actively pursue happiness then we are going to become happier.

Posted Nov 30, 2014

About 25 years ago, when I first started in Private Practice, I had a young man come to me who was so intelligent, bright, and alive with life that it was amazing.  He was an incredible pleasure to work with; but he came from a background where there was a lot of pain, a lot of suffering, and a lot of darkness.  There were a lot of very, very painful things that had happened in his life. 

We worked together for about six months and he was definitely getting better and was on an uphill path.  He was so intelligent and I’m sure he had the potential to do a great deal of wonderful things in his life inside of him. But, circumstances changed and he stopped coming to therapy.  He got involved in other things, he stopped working on himself.  He stopped his pursuit of happiness

About seven years later I was leaving my office one evening and he was there, waiting for me.  He just wanted to talk to me for a few minutes.  Clearly life hadn’t gone well for him and although I could see hints of his old self, most of him wasn’t there anymore.  He was a completely different person and life had been hard on him.  I remember after he left I actually cried a little bit in my car.  I was just feeling sorry for the way his life had turned out because he was such a beautiful, beautiful soul.  He had such potential but life hadn’t gone well.  Because he had come from such a challenging background it didn’t take long, only about 7 to 10 years, to change his personality and things about him so much that he was barely recognizable.  You may be thinking, “That’s too bad, but how does this relate to me?”  If we didn’t have a background as challenging as his, it may not seem as though it would really relate to us but it does relate to us all, no matter what our backgrounds may be.

If we don’t pursue happiness then we end up in other places; places that aren’t happy, places that cause us misery and suffering.  We will end up there if we don’t continue to put energy towards the pursuit of happiness.  In regards to physical health, we all understand this idea.  If we put forth energy to eat well, exercise, don’t smoke, and don’t drink too much, we’ll physically age pretty well as long as we don’t have any major physical catastrophes.  But the wonderful thing about happiness is that it doesn’t have to age us; we don’t have to get worse on our path to getting better and just slowly accept the changes.  We can gradually grow in our state of happiness and become happier as we get older. 

There are really two choices that we have.  There are two roads or paths that we can follow and they both have consequences to them.  If we don’t take time to be happy and have a happy life then it’s a lot like our physical shape: we’re going to get out of “happiness shape.”  Happiness takes effort and if we don’t work at it I can guarantee that we are going to become unhappier as we age.  We may mask this unhappiness with addictions, like alcohol or prescriptions drugs, but we are going to be unhappier and unhappier unless we work at it. 

So why is it that we will become unhappier unless we continue to pursue happiness?  Well, one reason may be our background. Unless we had the most loving, perfect parents in the world and a really beautiful, perfect environment that we grew up in, chances are that we have some healing to do.  If we don’t take time to heal and fix the conditioning of our past then we have a tendency towards unhappiness.  The second reason is perhaps more subtle, but it’s definitely there.  Our world really isn’t invested in us being happy; it’s far more invested in itself and its own gain. 

I was once asked to do a ten part series with the Fox Reality Channel and my part in the show was basically to help the viewers understand why they were doing what they were doing.  As always, I did explain the behavior but I did it in a kind and loving way because I believe there are always reasons why we do things.  The director was constantly trying to have me say things that I wasn’t comfortable with saying and after six weeks they fired me because I wasn’t “sensational” enough.  Yes, I got fired from a show called Busted and Disgusted because I wouldn’t attack people and make fun of them.  I have to admit I’m really not too sad about that, but the point is that what they are pushing today on television and in the media is sales.  Unfortunately, happy stories with happy images throughout the entire program don’t sell well.  Most people that go to movies want drama, excitement, and to see people hurt.  People want to see things that really aren’t very nice.  Those images shape us and they affect the way we interact with the world.  If we watch them enough and interact with all of these negative news events, television, radio, movies, music, and so on, all of these things shape us and they wear us out.  They make us become cynical and lose faith in humanity; we become unhappier.

There are so many ways I can prove this theory.  Let me try a very simple way to prove it.  If you or anyone you know watches a lot of news, see if they’re very happy people.  I’ll challenge you that anyone that watches a lot of news probably isn’t very happy.  If you’re watching the news every single day, waking up daily to all the negative news events, you need to STOP!  Instead, go for a walk, spend some time in nature, watch the sunset, watch the sunrise, listen to the birds and see if your day or even your week doesn’t go a little bit better; see if perhaps you don’t feel a little happier in life with more positive and beautiful surroundings.

Life is like that. That’s the other path we can choose, a path where we’re surrounding ourselves with things that add to our happiness.  They clearly make us a more positive, more peaceful, and happier people.  Meditation is one of the big ones that we can choose.  You would be hard-pressed to meditate and not find that, with time, you’re going to become happier.  Research studies even support this information.

But my goal here isn’t to explore every aspect of happiness and unhappiness. Rather, I want to look at the overall picture.  If we actively pursue happiness then we are going to become happier.  When we work at something we’re going to get positive results.  The great thing is that this piece and others within my “Happiness” articles are about what we can do to be happy and if you continue to read these articles you will find ways to continue to be happy.  However, the reverse is also true and it’s far more subtle.  If we do not work towards more happiness then we will become unhappy; it’s inevitable.  It’s really a lot like money.  If you want to make a lot of money and you’re poor you have to work at it; it takes work.  The poorer you are the more work it takes to become richer.  But sooner or later you will become wealthier, especially if you have someone knowledgeable helping you along the way.  That’s where my job comes in with helping you become happier along the way.  I’ll do my best to present information to you that can really aid you in your pursuit of happiness so that we can all have beautiful lives.  But if you don’t work at it, just like money, you’re going to become poorer.  We all will become poor if we just sit around and do nothing; that’s inevitable.  If we don’t do anything to become happy because of so many things in life pushing against us negatively, we are going to end up being unhappy.  So if we want to be happy we have to work at it. But it’s really worth it and I’m hoping you’ll find my inspirations and knowledge that I share with you here to be an essential tool to your constant pursuit of happiness. 

Happiness is something we can all have no matter what our backgrounds were or how old we may be.  We can all work towards happiness and while, yes, it does take work it is so worth the effort.  So always pursue happiness, each and every day, and give me the honor of being able to help you in your pursuit of happiness by sharing my knowledge with you.