Are your goals tied to happiness? Or are they tied to other less important things?
Happiness takes two essential forms: conditional and unconditional.
The form of happiness most of us think of when we hear the word “happiness” is “conditional” or “relative” happiness. Relative happiness is predicated on circumstances being a certain way, which always sounds something like this:
“If the weather was better, I’d be happy.”
“If I had more money, I would be happy.”
“If I lived in Paris, I’d be happy.”
“If I could play ball like Ronaldo, Lebron or Manning, I would be happy.”
“If I had kids, I’d be happy.”
“If my spouse and I got along, then I would be happy.”
“If I had a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse, then I’d be happy.”
Conditional happiness depends on things, situations and events. It depends on having a better body, getting that promotion at work, or your kids getting better grades in school. It relies on things outside of yourself. Conditional happiness is measuring the delta between where you are in life and where you believe you should be.
The most popular magazines in the world, like Cosmopolitan, Shape and Glamour sell millions of copies because they prey upon our human urge to measure ourselves. Marketing firms earn billions of dollars by producing ads that boil down to:
“If I had … (insert advertised product), then I’d be happy.”
“If I used … (insert advertised dating service), then I’d be happy.”
“If I had … (insert money-making opportunity), then I’d be happy.”
By struggling to achieve conditional happiness we rob ourselves of the opportunity to become absolutely happy. The situations, conditions and events we strive for, and the ideals we have mentally theorized as predicates for happiness are impossible to fully meet. Nothing is ever quite enough. Further, when lose our money, or athletic skill, or spouse, or our child brings home “Ds” on their report card, our happiness comes crashing down around us.
When we base our happiness on conditions and events, we find we are on top of the world when conditions are favorable and our happiness evaporates the next moment. We must then resume our search for happiness – hoping the next moment will last.