I don’t want to be happy

jokerThere’s a lot of talk today about happiness in work. Organisations are urged to make their staff because happy people are more productive and happy businesses perform better. Individuals are told to follow their passion, to pursue happiness because they will be more successful doing something that makes them happy. There are any number of books about how to be more happy (I’ve got a few myself). There’s the happy startup, the happy employee, the happy business. Happy, happy, happy!

What could possibly be wrong with being happy? Well, that rather depends on what is going on around you. If your colleagues are being made redundant, are you going to be happy? If you have to do a really stressful presentation, are you happy? If you have to take someone to task, a supplier or a co-worker, for example, is it going to make you happy?

The constant pursuit of happiness is not just inappropriate, it’s unachievable and unrealistic. Life can be tough at times, we go through unpleasant experiences, we will be unhappy. It’s part of the human condition.

We are not really pursuing happiness. We are looking for something much deeper than that. What we really want is satisfaction. Contentment. Fulfillment. Even in the worst of times, you can be satisfied with your lot whilst acknowledging the pain you feel.

So I don’t want to be happy, I want to be satisfied. The satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have done your best, regardless of the outcome. The satisfaction that comes from knowing you brought your best self to the situation, that you have learnt and grown from the experience. The satisfaction that comes from being driven by your purpose, from finding meaning in the life you are leading.

Happy is a transient state, you can’t live in happy land forever. Satisfaction, however, is something that you can experience all the time.