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The Consequence Of Not Pursuing HappinessBy Expert Author: Robert puff
About 20 years ago, when I first started in Private Practice, I had a young man come to me who was so amazingly intelligent, bright, and alive with life. Although he was an incredible pleasure to work with, he came from a background where there was a lot of pain, a lot of suffering, and a lot of darkness. There were a number of very, very painful things that had happened to him in his life.
As we worked together for roughly six months, he was definitely getting better and was on an uphill trajectory. He was so intelligent that I am sure he had the potential to do a great deal of wonderful things in his life. However, circumstances changed and he stopped coming to therapy. He got involved in other things, and he ceased working on himself. He stopped his pursuit of happiness.
About seven years later, I was leaving my office one evening and he was there, waiting for me. He just wanted to talk to me for a few minutes. Clearly, life hadnít gone well for him and although I could see hints of his former self, most of him wasnít there anymore. Life had been hard on him and he had transformed into a completely different person. I remember after he left, I actually cried a little bit in my car. I truly felt sorry for the way his life had turned out because he was such a beautiful, beautiful soul. He had such enormous potential, but life hadnít gone well. Especially because he had come from such a challenging background, it didnít take long for him to deteriorate to such a great extent that he was barely recognizable. You may be thinking, ďThatís too bad, but how does this relate to me?Ē If we didnít have a background as challenging as his, it may seem as though this anecdote does not relate to us. However, it does relate to us all, no matter what our backgrounds may be.
If we donít pursue happiness, then we end up in other places. These other places arenít happy and they cause us misery and suffering. We will end up there if we donít continue to put energy toward the pursuit of happiness. With regard to physical health, we all understand this idea. If we put forth energy to eat well and exercise, and to refrain from smoking or drinking too much, then weíll physically age pretty well as long as we donít endure any major physical catastrophes. The wonderful thing about happiness is that it doesnít have to decline as we get older. We can gradually grow in our state of happiness and become happier as we age.
Regarding happiness, we have two choices. There are two paths that we can follow, each with its own different consequence. Using the analogy of our physical shape, if we donít take time to be happy and have a happy life, then weíre going to get out of ďhappiness shape.Ē Happiness takes effort and if we donít work at it, I can guarantee that we are going to become more unhappy as we age. We may mask this unhappiness with addictions, such as alcohol or prescriptions drugs, but we are going to become more and more unhappy unless we work at it.
Why is it that we will become more and more unhappy unless we continue to pursue happiness? One reason may be our background. Unless we had the most loving, perfect parents in the world and grew up in a really beautiful, perfect environment, chances are that we have some healing to do. If we donít take the time to heal and fix the conditioning of our past, then we will have a tendency toward unhappiness. A second reason is perhaps more subtle, but it definitely exists. Our world really isnít invested in us being happy; our world is far more invested in itself and its own gain.
I was once asked to film a ten-part series with the Fox Reality Channel. My role in the series was basically to help the participants to understand why they were acting as they were. As always, I explained each individualís behavior in a kind and loving way because I believe there are always underlying reasons as to why we do things. The director was constantly trying to have me say things that I wasnít comfortable with saying, and after six weeks, they fired me because I wasnít ďsensationalĒ enough. Yes, I got fired from a show called Busted and Disgusted because I wouldnít attack people and make fun of them. I have to admit, Iím really not too sad about my firing! Unfortunately, happy stories with happy images throughout the entire program donít sell well. Most people who go to the movies want drama, excitement, and to see people get hurt. People want to see things that really arenít very nice. This is what they are pushing today on television and in the media. These images shape us and affect the way we interact with the world. If we watch these types of images enough and interact with all of the negative themes in news events, television, radio, movies, music, and so on, all of these things serve to wear us out. They make us become cynical and lose faith in humanity; we become ďwith kindĒ and far more unhappy.
There are so many ways I can prove this theory. Let me attempt a very simple way of doing so. If you or anyone you know watches a lot of news, think upon if theyíre very happy people. Iíll challenge you that anyone who watches a lot of news probably isnít very happy. If youíre watching the news every single day, waking up daily to all the negative news events, you need to STOP! Instead, go for a walk, spend some time in nature, watch the sunrise or sunset, or listen to the birds and see if your day or even your week doesnít go a little bit better. Take this challenge in order to determine if you donít feel a little happier in life with more positive and beautiful surroundings.
This is the other path we can choose, a path where weíre surrounding ourselves with things which add to our happiness. Such things clearly make us more positive, more peaceful, and happier people. Meditation is one of the big ones that we can choose. You would be hard pressed to meditate and not find that, with time, you become happier. A number of scientific studies support this fact.
My goal here isnít to explore every aspect of happiness and unhappiness, but instead to look at the overall picture. If we actively pursue happiness, then we are going to become happier. When we work at something, weíre going to achieve positive results. However, the reverse is also true and itís far more subtle. If we do not work toward achieving happiness, then we will inevitably become unhappy. For example, if you want to make a lot of money and youíre poor, then you have to work at it. The poorer you are, the more work it takes to become richer. But sooner or later, you will become wealthier, especially if you have someone knowledgeable helping you along the way. Thatís where I come in: I can help you to become happier along the journey of life. Iíll do my best to present information to you that can aid you in your pursuit of happiness, so that we can all have beautiful lives. But if you donít work at it, just like money, youíre going to lose out. It is an unavoidable fact that we all will become poor if we just sit around and do nothing. If we donít do anything to become happy, then we are going to end up being unhappy because of the many things in life pushing against us negatively. If we want to be happy, we have to work at it. Itís really worth it! Iím hoping youíll find my inspirations and knowledge that I share with you here to be an essential tool to your constant pursuit of happiness.
Happiness is something we can all have no matter what our backgrounds are or how old we may be. We can all work toward happiness. While it does take work, achieving happiness is so worth the effort. Let us always pursue happiness, each and every day, and let me have the honor of sharing my knowledge with you so that I may help you in your pursuit of happiness.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, international speaker, and happiness expert who has been counseling individuals, families, nonprofits, and businesses for over twenty years in Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Corona del Mar and Huntington Beach.
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