What Would Make You Happy?
Ask anyone ‘what would make you happy?' and you’re likely to get an answer in terms of money. We can often think in terms of how much money it would take to make us happier; “If I had fifty thousand / five hundred thousand / five million dollars, then I’d be happy”. For most people, money brings the power to pay off debts, afford bigger houses and take overseas trips. However, it might be that some level of happiness is nearer to hand than this.
What would make you happy
When we think about what would make ourselves happier we contemplate doing things that will relieve our immediate worries. Alternatively, we desire things to blot out our unhappiness. Whilst many aspire to provide much-needed help to others or giving money to charity, it's not our prime motivation. Usually, we dream of giving up our jobs and having a life of leisure or of paying back debts. Perhaps we hope money will heal our regrets.
Coupled with this is the idea that we will just be given this money, either through a lottery or a rich aunt. For most of us, these are unlikely events.
In so many cases, the dreams of happiness that people have never get realised.
They are pinned to something that will never happen.
What is it that makes us unhappy?
Perhaps an alternative to this might be to wonder what it is that makes us so unhappy – the ‘problem’ that we hope the extra money will ‘cure’ – and what we can realistically do about it.
Is it that we are depressed and discouraged about finding work that interests us and pays well? Is it that we have situations in our life that make us uncomfortable, anxious or angry and then make us want to escape them? Do we want to try to ease our guilt and shame about the mistakes of the past? Would we like others to think better of us? Would these things make us happier?
Our unhappiness is at least partially because of the things that we think and the things that we feel. That's good news, as it means then there are realistic steps we can take. It might be that a modest investment in therapy focused on changing these things might go beyond the quick fix and make some difference to our happiness today.
We could even spend some time exploring the idea that happiness in our society is somewhat compulsive.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Now, read why hope is not a plan.
– Tim Hill