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The One Thing More Important Than Happiness

Find out if you agree.

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gif illustration of smiling winking face, key to happiness
Elizabeth Brockway
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Everyone’s main goal in life is to be happy, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve said it myself so many times that I’ve lost count. I used to wake up every morning and all I wanted was to feel happy, from the time my feet hit the floor until I’d return to bed that night. I wanted to go to sleep with a smile on my face, and I used to constantly tell my kids that the key to life is happiness.

Society pushes happiness at every turn. If you get in shape, you’ll be happy. If you find love, you’ll be happy. If you buy this alcoholic beverage, these chips or this luxurious sofa to lounge on, you’ll be happy.

But do you know of anyone who is happy all the time? I don’t. Life ebbs and flows, and just when you think you have things figured out and you feel happy, something happens to take it away. The car breaks down, your feelings get hurt by your spouse or a friend, you start to resent your job, and your favorite pants are too tight. Things like this can ruin an entire day or week and strip us of our happiness.

“This too shall pass” has been quoted often because it’s painfully true. It includes our happiness, which is why I decided to stop putting so much emphasis on it. Many things can determine our moods, and there are days when we don’t feel happy because we are human.

Instead, I’ve been focusing on something else that’s better than happiness: my peace. Feeling peaceful is something you can tap into even on the days when you don’t feel like smiling, and it’s made my life better and intentional.

Now, no matter what I’m doing, I ask myself if it will make me feel peaceful in the long run.

Sure, staying in bed, watching television and ignoring my to-do list may make me happy in the moment, but it isn’t going to make my future self feel peaceful.

That new job may pay well, and the money might make you happy for a bit. But make sure before you take that position that it’s not going to strip you of your peace.

Maybe you have a friend or partner who is robbing you of your solitude, and you keep telling yourself to hang in there because you might be lonely if you let them go. Perhaps your phone dinging at all hours of the evening is taking a toll on your nervous system, but you’re worried you’ll miss out on something if you don’t keep it on. Do you have someone in your life who makes you feel calm and fulfilled, yet you’re too busy to spend much time with them?

All these things contribute to our peace, and oftentimes we’re too occupied looking for our next source of happiness to pay attention to the former.

Recently, I’ve begun doing some activities that have brought me enormous peace. I put my phone away at a certain time and go to bed early and read. I’ve started wearing only comfortable clothes and shoes. I refuse to let much of anything get in the way of my morning workout (that includes all the excuses I try and come up with), and I end each day thinking about what I have in my life that brings me peace.

The more intentional I’ve been about living a peaceful lifestyle, the more peaceful my life has become. It’s OK to edit everything from your sock drawer to your contact list, to the people you follow on social media. Take things away that make you feel anxious or triggered. Say no to doing things you know you won’t enjoy but in the past you’ve said yes to, simply to have something to do.

Now, on the days when I know I’m not my happiest self, I’m able to get through things better because I’ve eliminated so much that used to bring extra chaos to my life — such as that stupid stool that was in my way all the time but looked cute, or the friend who would only call to complain and talk about themselves.

I know I'll get through these times because, even on the worst days, I still have a sense of peace-— I’ve been diligent about creating it.

If you want to be happy all the time, maybe the key is to simply eliminate what you can in your life that doesn’t bring you peace. That just makes a lot more sense. Honestly, it’s a lot more doable than trying to be happy all the time.

Do you agree with the above? That being at peace is more important than happiness? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Lifestyle