What If Life Is Not About Happiness, But About Usefulness?

What do you want to be when you grow up? On the sheet of paper for my fourth grade classroom assignment, I wrote, “happy.” The answer was simple, and to me it made sense. Forget fame and fortune, forget having a ‘perfect’ life. All I wanted at the end of the day was happiness. And in a lot of ways, I still think that’s true. Lately, though, I’ve been rediscovering what happiness really means, and questioning why, as humans, we’re so hell bent on chasing it.

Honestly, happiness is one of those elusive things. It’s an emotion, yes, but it’s also a state of mind—a perspective. Not necessarily something tangible that we can feel, hold, or have within our fingertips; yet it’s not something we can’t physically grasp, either.

The way I see it, is that happiness is a manifestation of our desires. A place of being, a mindset where what we have is enough—whether we’ve reached a certain stage or not. And this is dependent not upon what we’ve obtained, but what we feel.

I’ve written on the topic of happiness quite often, especially in my transition to adulthood. I think what’s been the most fascinating part of my journey is realizing that what once made me happy isn’t what I care about anymore. The things that I used to put value into—unconsciously or not—aren’t the most important parts of my life anymore.

In the past, happiness was all about my selfish gain. I was the happiest when I was pursuing my passions, when I was tumbling headfirst towards my dreams. I was happiest when I pushed away the rules and expectations of the world and did what I wanted to boost myself and my career.

I was also equally happy when I was in love. As a hopeless romantic, falling into relationships made me feel so fulfilled (and yes, this was definitely unhealthy at times). I was always the girl in the long-term relationships, always the one letting my big heart take the lead. Love was a huge motivator, and oftentimes my driving force for happiness.

And maybe that’s the perspective of all of us when we’re young, or maybe I was just in that mindset in my early twenties, but now my heart has shifted. Now, happiness isn’t found in people. It’s not found in gain, especially in terms of money or social status. It’s not found in my career.

The way I see happiness now has shifted to not be about me at all.

The purpose of my life is not to find and bring in things that make me happy, but to cultivate joy within others. To give, to love, and to be useful, with my heart, my soul, my passions, and my days on this earth.

I used to think my purpose was all about finding what I was meant to do and doing it. But it doesn’t stop there. True purpose isn’t about just doing, but understanding the why.

Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for? And how can I be a blessing?

It goes beyond the ‘this makes me happy,’ and into ‘how can I take what makes me happy and make an impact?

I’ve learned—in growing up, in loving on other people’s children, in starting a business, in becoming a ‘mama,’—that happiness isn’t the goal. It’s usefulness. It’s how I can benefit the world around me, because that unselfish living makes me the happiest of all.

As humans we chase. We chase people, things, careers, passions, successes, money, fame, love—you name it. And chasing things isn’t bad, it’s just negative when we become so obsessed with what we don’t have that we forget what we do. It’s just negative when we are so selfishly focused that we lose sight of the people around us and what they might need.

Honestly, what I’m learning more and more about life is that the purpose, the dream, the ‘goal’ isn’t about being happy, but about giving, loving, and doing. It’s about taking what we have to offer and finding a way to be useful, to build the people around us, to grow and make this world a better place. Then in turn, we become happy. All of us, collectively.
 

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