I recently finished reading another of Mark Manson's books, "Everything is F*@ked- A book About Hope" and it got me thinking... what if the pursuit of happiness isn't right?
The whole world (and the interweb too) wants you to be your best self, live your best life, and just be happy. There was even a hit song about not worrying and being happy! We justify everything because it makes us happy. But this book raised a good point - the pursuit of happiness is wrong. The assumption is that happiness is the universal constant and that life is about getting more of it. But, in a point that really resonated with me, the author describes that Pain, not happiness is the universal constant. You don't want more happiness, you want less pain.
Everything we do as humans is to manipulate the level of pain we are in. Just like light and dark, you cannot have happiness without pain (and let's face it, pain could be physical, emotional, stress etc etc).
It's a mindset I've recently been focusing on more. Rather than assess levels of happiness I am assessing levels of pain. In his other book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*@k", Manson discussing problems and how at any level of life, there are always problems. He talks about how rather than solving problems we are simply trading them. Much like pain. We are trading pains. The pain of being homeless is swapped for the pain of paying a mortgage BUT you gain the happiness of a home. The pain of having to manage employees is swapped for the pain of playing the "everyone" role in your new small business BUT you gain autonomy.
It is this mindset that has really helped me gauge the level of which I am happy. I measure it now not by the level of happiness I am in, but rather the level of pain. Minimal pain must mean I am happy. If you looked at it the other way, a mundane day might seem boring or less happy, despite the absence of pain. In framing everything in relation to pain, you get a true measure of how happy you really are.