The pursuit of happiness in most people’s lives is seemingly elusive. In some respects, it almost seems that the concept of happiness has been left out of the evolutionary design.
Leo Tolstoy said, “Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.” I’m going to share with you a difficult part of my childhood in the hopes it illustrates that the path you choose is critical to the level of joy you experience.
When I was 12, my family moved from New Jersey to Fort Worth, Texas. I remember thinking about the change as a great opportunity to create a new life, to be someone different than I was.
Of course, being 12, I focused on seeking attention and acceptance from others. It was a tormenting and excruciatingly painful path that proved highly unsuccessful and culminated in my ultimate debate of whether existence made sense. I wax a bit philosophical to spare you the grim detail but I can assure you that it was a traumatic experience that I hope most can avoid.
So what would have saved me from all the despair, grief and pain?
A simple recognition that the path to joy is not through stroking the ego, having others like you, obtaining wondrous material possessions or even creating successful ventures. None of these made me truly happy and I can assure you none of them will bring you great joy either. What will bring you continual happiness is seeking out those that need your help and devoting yourself in their service.
Of course, a word of caution, helping others is extremely addictive. However, I can not think of any addiction I would rather see spread through the world. Therefore, I challenge you to raise your joy level by doing something to help someone in need today. Are you in?