Pursuing Happiness Is A Trap & YOU’RE in it.

happiness trap Ever feel like you did something really stupid?


Something that made no sense at all.

Ever then kicked yourself when you did it again?

And again. And again?

You’re so aware, you really should’ve known better..

Ever made an assumption that turned out to be totally wrong?

What about the “good” assumptions – like assuming birthdays should be extra special days just cos you were born on that day. Like the best time to set new intentions is when it’s a new moon.

Like someone you love should love the same things you do.

How do these serve you?

When you assume something, it’s most likely based in fear. Fear that keeps you from truly being happy as long as you associate those thoughts with past actions and experiences.

I was thinking about assumptions and anticipation today as I wandered into my favourite little crystal / mystic shop near Queenstown.

About how I anticipated this trip and how I assumed it would make me feel. Getting here to find that it’s neither how I dreamed, nor how I expected.

(You’ve been with me as I planned this trip, excitedly booked flights, got my visa, and packed excitedly)

So where did that state of sheer happiness go?

Don’t get me wrong – it’s all going well and I AM happy, it’s just that I might have mistaken high energy and anticipation for happiness.

Thinking that cos it wasn’t as warm (weather wise) or as much of a homecoming I thought it would be, I would have to do something to be ‘happier’.

You see, in my mind, it was ‘supposed’ to be a certain way.

As I browsed the shop still musing, I was drawn to a book.

Hello, the Happiness Trap. Resonance! What I read struck me: Did you know you’re shooting yourself in the foot when you make ‘looking for happiness’ your main goal in life?

Living a values based life is what will bring you true happiness, as opposed to living a goals based life – quoted non verbatim.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about dreams and goals and the pursuit of happiness is definitely one of human-kind’s biggies.

It’s when we assume that anything less than a happy vibe will take us away from this ultimate goal, that we pay a huge price – fear, anxiety and stress.

To live an illusion of happiness, most people shy away from negative feelings and do whatever they can to make them ‘go away’. These people are sometimes you and me.

(Even though for the most part, we DO know better, yay us!)

You’re smart enough to allow emotions and feelings to be fully experienced, knowing that what you resist persists.

You know all you want is to feel good again and being LOA and personal development savvy, you’ll stay with it so you can get past it. The way out of it is often through it.

It happened to me when I talked about being dragged into the emotions and drama of being a victim in the past, when I was hard on myself for being in that place again, till I realised just how far I had actually come.

But this book really got me seeing things differently again.

It made me see that anxiety is normal. Contrary to belief, happiness is not yet our normal state of being and is influenced by the fears of others around us as we’re growing up.

(I believe we ARE headed that way one little step at a time, just not fully there yet).

Happiness is not the same as feeling good.

It’s a feeling of being alive, full of life force energy. And by its very nature, life force energy covers all human emotions and ranges.

Just like the tide ebbs and flows, nature reinvents itself, trees and plants grow and die, life begins and ends, there is always a polar opposite of every emotion and feeling known to us.

This brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘acceptance’.

Accept not just the feeling that is in the moment, but also the fact that life WILL be up and down, you WILL sink back into old unwanted patterns every now and then, things will not always work out like you want, you WILL be sad, mad, bad, glad many more times in your life.

Accept that no matter how much spiritual work you do, how aware you are, how much you’ve learned and grown, you will experience the full range of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, as long as you live.

I’ve ‘ ed’ good and bad because it’s time to stop labelling these emotions. When you label, you separate and create pain by questioning why.

Accept that this is really, truly, ok. Like Charlie of Productive Flourishing says, what would happen if you didn’t think it was ‘bad’ to feel down?

Let go of that damn happiness “goal”.

The happiness that comes from achieving a goal or a dream is short-lived. If you’re like me, 20 seconds later you’re wondering what’s next. Goals will come and go and keep getting achieved.

Enjoy the anticipation instead!

The thing with anticipation (aka the journey) is that it’s almost always more fun than the actual event (aka the goal) you’ve been waiting for to happen.

It’s been said before and I’ll say it again – really, really, enjoy the ride. Cos when it’s over, that’s what you’ll remember.

Don’t make the memory about getting off the roller coaster and being sick, make it be about the stars you saw on top of the ride, the people who looked like ants below, and the gobs of fun you had squealing and laughing.

The moments each day is made up of, the tears and smiles, the ups and downs.

And one more thing – Forgive yourself. Love yourself. That is all.

So .. watchu thinking? What’s your take on Happiness as a Goal vs a Value? What do you believe is your natural state of being? Do you agree or disagree with this post? I’m inviting your comments and would love to know what you’ve got to say! Cheers!

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  1. MissyB says

    I’ve never thought about happiness in this way – you’ve made me put my thinking cap on now.
    To me – and my simplistic view because I so want to believe all of this is meant to be simple – I just put happiness in the same basket as positivity, gratitude, contentment, joy, appreciation and the like. That’s as about as far as I’d got with it….well apart from the fact that at times, I have felt that all of the things in my basket above have elluded me. Time for me to think about it…

    In the meantime – I love acceptance. Life flows so much easier if you accept that the highs will roll in to the lows that will roll in to the highs; when you accept people aren’t as perfect as you hoped for, or as bad as you dreaded; when you accept that your feelings only last for as long as they last and so they don’t hang about. Acceptance brings much relief.

  2. says

    I’m still thinking about this myself, Missy! Think what it is, is that we’ve somehow collapsed happiness, pleasure and feeling good into one feeling and yet, they all come from different sources. Not that it should matter where something comes from as long as it’s there..right?

    I hear you on the making it simple and what if the simplest thing really was just.. acceptance? The hardest to practice maybe (till we get good at it) but the simplest way to happiness.

    Acceptance = absence of struggle against what is (which is what makes us anxious and frustrated and all that jazz). I almost said ‘all those negative feelings’ and am watching what I say now.

    What if we decided to just think of them as FEELINGS instead of putting the positive = negative spin on them? What would happen then? Right then, lets put it to the test shall we, who else is game?

    So if something happens that makes you feel bad or low, instead of saying “I need to change this negative mood or spiral I’m in”, how about just hanging out there and being okay with being tired / sad/ depressed / angry/ whatever and saying ‘I needed that!

    Like my friend Kim wrote in her Astro Mojo Scope “We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden” – Change and renewal can feel uncomfortable and not-so-nice but what if we embraced them as a natural part of life?

    I’d love to say “I feel unproductive and lazy” and laugh it off w/o beating myself up about feeling that way. Thoughts are stories we tell so why can’t we just tell stories and then move on without letting them stick? Like going to the movies and being fully immersed in the drama, mystery or romance, but not letting them affect us for days on end..

    Ok I realise I’m getting carried away here so will spend some time playing with these concepts and blog about this experiment next week. If anyone is inspired to do the same, come back and share your experiences in a few days! Thanks for posting, young lady!

  3. says

    An ugly family event happened three years ago, followed by an even uglier one two years ago. Last year I ignored the holidays as I am doing again this year. But this year I am allowing myself to go to the bottom emotionally and feel my sadness about the holidays and family. I went so far as to draw a line in the sand, saying I will talk about the event and players anytime I want to, as the code of silence is one of the major problems that has fed the family issues for nearly thirty years. (Yes, I have taken many trips around the sun.) But, ever since I made that declaration (acknowledging what repercussions might occur) I have been so much more free from the need to go there. And when I do, I don’t stay long because I am finally processing it. It just doesn’t have the power over me that it use to have. Clearly, what you resist persists.

    I not only hear you, Tia, I’m there with you. And, what you said about enjoying the journey applies to this as well. I see my journey as a string of events that I am gradually choosing my actions based on my values–and I am proactively living my values.

    Regarding your time spent in New Zealand, I have a question for you. What surprises does the Universe have waiting for you to discover on this trip? Can’t wait to hear about them. (Besides this book) 😉

  4. says

    You’re talking about something very powerful here, Berta. When we stop struggling long enough to allow and acknowledge what is, the charge goes away and we often wonder why we didn’t do it sooner. With time, we learn to let go much faster and thus, heal faster.

    Avoidance comes from the fear of pain, and when you realise it’s going to hurt today or tomorrow, wouldn’t you rather rip the bandaid off instead of peeling it off slowly? Pain in an instant, followed by quick healing vs festering wounds that take ages to dry up.

    An icky example but so true! I’m well curious about the surprises the U has for me will let you know for sure! Thanks for sharing xo

  5. Janette says

    Last week I attended an Abraham-Hicks workshop on Australia’s Gold Coast and for the first time ever I actually GOT the message that we don’t have to be happy all the time. OMG!! Who knew??

    I understood that we experience contrast (bad stuff) and out of that we form the desire for what we want (good stuff) and the way we manifest the good stuff is through lifting our vibe (ie feeling better, in increments, until we can get ourselves to joy). Also known as being in the Vortex (check their latest book for more)

    But what happens when we get the good stuff? It’s all great for a while and then we find ourselves in contrast again and we beat ourselves up because despite all this work we’re doing, we’re not happy. Again.

    What I had never got before is – that’s all part of the cycle!

    The contrast/desire/manifestation cycle is what keeps everything – you, me, the Universe – expanding. So the not-happy bits are all essential parts of the expansion of everything, otherwise we’d all be stagnating.

    I can’t tell you how loud the clunk was, of the penny dropping on that one!!! I’m still on a high from absorbing this notion, it’s been a long time coming but boy is it a good one! Now I am SO off the hook on those occasions where I’m not happy. And that makes it WAY easier to find the ways to get happy again (not for the goal of being happy, but just because it feels better than not-happy)

    Nice one Tia!

  6. says

    Happiness is the theme this month – what it is, what we mean by it, what we really want. Love that you had this experience around the same time I’m questioning the pursuit of happyness too. Ha! No co-incidence at all, is it JD?

    I get what you’re saying – it’s good to have contrast cos without it, we wouldn’t know any better (OR, would we? Could contrast exist cos we’re just not clued in enough to know we COULD be happy / content all the time or is it here to show us we aren’t meant to be happy all the time.. could it be that once we are enlightened, we wouldn’t need contrast anymore? hmm? hmm?)

    For now all I know is that the contrast never ends, so might as well enjoy it or at least be okay with it (I say embrace it!) as a big part of our life experience, hey.

    Thanks for pointing out another reason to take it on board – we get to grow instead of stagnate! That’s a pretty cool benefit 🙂 As is the REASON to be happy – cos it feels better, not just cos it’s a goal. Right on sista!

  7. says

    Tia…you once again got me just where I needed to go today. Love it! I particularly loved the line about not making the memory about getting off the roller coaster and being sick.

    I was reminded of a call with my mom a few weeks ago. She and my dad had gone to Italy for vacation. A friend had given them 6 nights in a swanky hotel (I’m talking 1200 Euros a night swanky…wow!!), so they couldn’t pass it up!

    The got their to find they’d be dealing with rain for most of their stay. And then, my dad’s camera got stolen.

    I was so proud of my mom because she said, “We didn’t want the story of the trip to be about the rain or the stolen camera…so we made sure it wasn’t!”

    They even went as far as to recreate some of the pictures with my mom’s camera (let’s hear it for everyone traveling with tiny electronics these days!) and braved the rain every day they were there.

    I think it was only fitting that the one thing my dad REALLY wanted to see (Pompei) didn’t get rained out. In fact, even though it was raining when they left the hotel, as soon as they walked up to the gates of the city the rain stopped and they were greeted by a HUGE rainbow.

    And THAT is the story they tell when they talk about the trip. Ah…love it!

    Thanks again for the great reminder about not getting caught in the happiness trap. So easy to do if we let ourselves!


    PS–Janette, you got my attention by talking about my two favorite things: Abraham and the loud clunk of a penny dropping! 🙂 I had a similar a-ha moment when I went to one of their workshops here in Washington, DC 2 months ago. What a relief to know we’re not supposed to be happy ALL the time! Not sure why it was I never got that before…but I’ve got it loud and clear now!

  8. says

    The rollercoaster was all mine, haha. Great analogy though, innit. LOVE the story of your parents CHOOSING the memory they wanted to create and being able to do it. That is real power – no wonder their daughter turned out to be so phenomenal as well, rock on babe!

    Ps: where can I get friends like theirs? 🙂

  9. MissyB says

    Ok – I agree – simple process – hard to put in to action. So is losing weight !

    My conflict is this – if we are to feel the emotion, and Abe says we need the contrast, why do they tell us to look for the better thought in all the negative situations ?

  10. says

    Hmmm good question, Missy! Could it be that we aren’t yet advanced enough to always follow our feel good and that’s why we need contrast?

    Another thought I just had was – if we could look at the hurtful thoughts as just passing through and in the meantime fully played with them, those thoughts would go away soon enough, just like the Sun rises and sets.

    And since very few of us can actually hang out in the “negative” (yes, I’m going to apostrophe this word from now on!) vibe till it passes, we need manual ways of changing our state.

    Makes sense, huh! The real practice is in observing all states and trusting that they are just that – states of being, rather than assigning meaning to them.

    What does everyone else think? Curious to know your thoughts!

  11. Silvana says

    HI TIA,
    I hope you are well i been really hanging out to read one of your blogs as i have find them not only thought provoking but soul exploring.

    I believe that one of the most important things is to accept we need to embrace all of ourselves even thour there may be parts that perhaps may there may be parts of ourselves that may not be themost pleasant. By that i mean we all have light side and shadow i think its when we accept that we are not perfect, we love ourselves a little more and be not judgemental we can find happiness.

    I hope you are well.


  12. says

    Thanks for the compliment Silvana! Love that you look forward to reading as much as I look forward to the discussion that follows – to me, THAT’S the best part of this blog 😀

    You are so right about being able to embrace all individual parts of ourselves, our normal attitude is to love the good parts and be embarrassed by the “negative” parts but really, if we look at nature and our world – everything has 2 sides! It’s a 2-D world, not a paper cut out ay.

    Granted, this has been the most challenging part of our personal development journey but I think we’re getting there 🙂 Yes we are. And what a great feeling that is!

    Thanks so much for sharing, reading and being here. I appreciate you!

  13. says

    Great Post Tia!!! I love how deep and inspired you feel as you’re journeying right now…

    The bit that stands our and sings the most for me is when you said, “Living a values based life is what will bring you true happiness (as opposed to living a goals based life)”

    I’ve long felt that tuning in to the power of a virtue-based life is key. When we place our focus on virtues or values that are important to us…and live the magic of them, the vibration of these virtues in our lives draws us ever closer to our most brilliant, aligned, Divine Self. As with anything that is real and true, it serves us well to begin within…

    You’ve inspired a post in me today, Tia! …hot off the press. 🙂

    Sending you love, JOY and appreciation in this moment and always!!

    On the road of Happiness and all the other Good Stuff and enjoying the ride…

    XO Deb (@debsoul)

  14. says

    Holy goosebumps Deb!! That’s what my Dec 15 ezine was all about too – values and fulfillment. Love how we resonate 🙂

    My friend Dianne says that she now asks to be in alignment with and want what will fulfill her life purpose, vs asking for x,y,z thing. That’s making me change the way I manifest and ask for things as well.

    From “thank you for ….” to “thank you for helping me align with my soul’s purpose and bringing me what I need to fulfill it”. Tell you what, it allows for peace and acceptance over grasping and wanting.

    Like J’s ‘want it good or want it bad’? Glad I inspired a DebSoul post 😀 love you sista, hope to meet you IRl in 2010!

  15. MissyB says

    When I first had depression many years back I read a book. One thing I took from the book is this saying – this too will pass. All emotions pass – ride them and they pass quicker, supress them and they are sure to follow you around until you ride them at some point. And the longer you leave them, the more moss they gather, and soon your rolling stone bowls you over.

    But I’m still not clear why Abe asks us to find the better thought…this to me is contrast to feeling your way through the rough end of the emtion scale.


  16. says

    Isn’t looking for the better feeling thought a contrast to the one we’re in? Each different vibe is actually a contrasting one, whether it`s a better thought or a worse one. So by experiencing these diverse feelings, we are actually experiencing contrast and choosing what feels better … right?

    Not sure if I`m getting caught up in understanding this query, how about we put it out there and see who has some other thoughts around this. Thanks for inspiring the next post, Missy!

  17. Carol says

    @MissyB, I’ve listened to and read a lot of Abraham material, and believe that they recommend feeling your emotions, and then using them to guide yourself to feeling better.

    I think they suggest finding the better feeling thought because so many people get knocked down and stay there saying “poor me . . . look how I was wronged. Come down here and join my pity party. Let’s wallow in how bad I have it.” For instance, I’ve known people who have gotten divorced (not their choice) and have been bitter for years and years afterward. They’re stuck. Looking for the better feeling thought pulls people out of victim mode and the accompanying downward spiral. As Abraham says, “The better it gets, the better it gets . . . and the worse it gets, the worse it gets.”

    Abraham recommends moving up the emotional scale so you can be a closer match to the vibration of your Inner Being . . . so you can be in the Vortex and be enjoying all that you have placed there. You do have to experience the contrast, but staying in the contrast doesn’t feel good to anyone (except maybe a masochist – LOL). A few minutes of contrast goes a long way for me! I step outside the door into the cold (it’s winter here in Wisconsin), and instantly I know I would rather be where it is warm.

    Just think how the universal consciousness will rise when enough people get the message to look for the better feeling thought. What an interesting world we will live in when we get to a tipping point where 51% of the people are aware of the Law of Attraction . . . 🙂

  18. says

    A thought to MissyB about the “finding the better thought in the negative stuff” question she had. The sooner we look for the better thought (after processing, if need be) the sooner all those better thoughts connected to it come to us. It shifts our vibration to a higher one so the negative ones don’t keep coming on so strong taking us deeper than we’re prepared to go. I also believe the better thoughts, even if they’re not feelings yet, create more opportunities to see other good stuff happening or coming. It’s like, you’re looking out a window and not liking what you see very much, you acknowledge that and then find another window with a sunnier view to look at. Pretty mental picture eh? 🙂

  19. MissyB says

    I knew I’d get some insights ! I see where you are all coming from too.

    I think that I am looking at Abe’s wise words to find the better feeling as too balck and white. I saw it to be this – feel crap and get out of it as soon as possible. Where as its probably more like this – FEEEEEL crap and find the next best thought you can. I think Mary summed it up by saying about processing the pants bit first and then moving forward. Which is what I do. But when I read about Abe saying find the next best thought up the scale, I kind of saw that as jumping from feeling pants and not dealing with the feeling pants bit. In my head the above bit makes sense !
    I’m not sure, as you can see from above, that I explained myself too well the first time around. I just saw it that Abe doesn’t want us to wallow full stop. I couldn’t see their advice that you need to feel the emotion in order for it not to bite you on the bum later.
    Thanks folks.

  20. says

    Thanks Carol and Mary for the excellent insights! I knew someone would be able to understand and express what I was trying to say in a better way 🙂

    And yeah Missy, from my understanding Abe agree that we definitely have to FEEELLL the feelings before we can truly move on. What a fantastic discussion this turned out to be, thanks to you for asking the question and to everyone who replied. You guys rock so hard!!

  21. MissyB says

    I smiled when I saw someone’s comment last night – though can’t remember where. Anyway – she said happiness is a perception. Isn’t it just.

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