This phrase is something we’ve all seen on Instagram as an inspirational quote, a nice superficial philosophy. Does it mean I need more vacations, more happy hours, more time with friends? I notice this sentiment repeated a great deal across social media, but I believe that the meaning behind it goes far deeper.
What does it mean to be happy?
When you see ‘Do more of what makes you happy’, the question you should be asking yourself is what really makes you happy? We are trained to think that what the media’s portrayal of happiness is what makes us happy. Actually, we all know that happiness has nothing to do with that. We should be able to be happy without anything related to what the media shows us. We need to be happy internally.
This is easily said and more challenging to do, but I believe that should be our goal; to understand what really makes us happy, completely happy, at peace with ourselves, at peace with our actions, at peace with our thinking process, at peace with our way of dealing with problems and challenges.
Happiness is a daily pursuit
There's no correct answer, there's no easy path, it's a journey and it's a challenge every single day. It's a daily pursuit to find what really makes us happy and every day understanding that usually what really makes us happy is very simple. Simple attitudes, simple behaviours, simple meditation, simple goodwill, simple positive thinking, as we practice these things, we naturally start to become happier. In spite of whatever we do outside, where we are, who is beside us, we will feel happier just because of this internal state of mind.
The concept of being successful
It’s very interesting to analyse this concept from a modern, Western, capitalist, commercial standpoint and from what we see in all these motivational, inspirational, self-help courses that we see around and on social media. The concept that we see on all these courses is that, you can do it, you deserve it, you can achieve what you want: that's always the message. The first thing is to analyse that, what do most people say when they think about, what do I want? They say, "I want to be successful." And what does it mean to be successful?
Success can often mean financial gain, being well-known, having the next great idea, creating the next great thing, becoming famous, being respected by others, becoming an opinion leader, an influencer, or having many followers and many likes. If that is what most people actually want because that's what the only thing that society values, then that's a problem. When we see that everybody is seeking the same thing, and these self-help, motivational, inspirational courses are saying that everybody can achieve that, that's actually not fair and it's not true. Because if everybody can achieve something, that thing is not special anymore. It’s only a small percentage of the population who will become the next famous person, or will have the next great idea, or be the next great thing, or become the next well-known influencer, or become the next leader in their area. If everybody could achieve that, whatever is special becomes normal. If everybody can become rich financially, becoming rich is not rich anymore because everybody has the same, so now you have to have something above that. So what success means is distorted and it's very unfair to send the message to everybody that everyone can achieve this fake sensation of success.
"When we see that everybody is seeking the same thing, and these self-help, motivational, inspirational courses are saying that everybody can achieve that, that´s actually not fair and it´s not true. Because if everybody can achieve something, that thing is not special anymore."
What if success meant something more?
If success means being healthy and being happy, everybody can achieve that. Now, to make this possible for everyone, we need to change completely the way people understand success because what we see is that people, when they think about success, they don't always consider health and happiness. They think of this as a secondary thing, what they really want is usually to become respected, to become well-known, to become rich. To give, to receive credit and, compliments, that's unfortunately what we are educated for.
So with this vision, what we learn from these motivational courses becomes a fake promise because again, if everybody can have the next great idea, the next great idea is not a great idea anymore, it's just a normal idea. If everybody can make the next million, having one million becomes normal and it's not special anymore because everybody has one million. You just add zeros into a piece of paper and that's it. If everybody wants to become the next influencer, nobody's going to become an influencer, because it's impossible for everybody to be exposed to everybody. So I believe that when we go ask for help in terms of motivation and inspiration, first we need to calibrate inside ourselves to establish what real success means.
"I think when we go to ask for help in terms of motivation and inspiration, we first have to calibrate within ourselves to establish what true success means."
For me, real success means being really happy. Don't create fake expectations and as a peer leader that is already successful, you are among that 0.1%. It's easy for us, for somebody that already achieved recognition to say, "It's easy, you can do it," It just depends on yourself because that's not true. When you say, "If you want to be like Michael Jordan." No you can’t. Only 0.001 of the people will even get close to becoming like Michael Jordan. And would that bring you genuine happiness? You set yourself up for being miserable when you create that expectation of becoming something big and something successful with that standard superficial definition of success.
"Don't create fake expectations and understand that it doesn't matter if you're not Michael Jordan, because even people that are like Michael Jordan, many of them are not happy."
Happiness is achievable for everyone
There's something much bigger, something much more important and therein lies the beauty of it because what really matters, everybody can achieve. We can all achieve happiness in our own way by setting realistic goals and working hard to achieve them. Let’s stop painting this unfair picture that only those who become millionaires or who invent a world changing concept can be successful and therefore happy. This only leads to misery and encouraging people to strive, rather than celebrate their successes along the way. The pursuit of happiness is a daily task, and success is all those little moments along the way!
"We can all achieve happiness in our own way by setting realistic goals and working hard to achieve them."
Want to read more of Christian’s thoughts about life and dentistry? You can now subscribe to his blog posts on this topic, delivered directly to your inbox. Subscribe here.