If happiness in the moment is felt through our biological functions as a reaction to what is happening in our lives, then we should be able to find all the happiness we need from simple, idle pleasures like video games, TV, or other instant attractions designed to provide us with high-frequency, low-doses of happiness. And yet, that's clearly not enough. There's a feeling of self-worth and accomplishment that provides us deeper, more lasting happiness, which can continue well beyond the activity itself. So, how do we find this fountain of happiness?
The feeling of self-worth and accomplishment is a far different flavor of happiness than the one we feel when we get that extra like, view, or retweet. It's one that isn't easily earned through trivial activities, but rather is gained through trials and tribulations, often involving significant bouts of unhappiness or negative feelings along the way. Whether creating a work of art, training for and climbing a mountain, or volunteering time to help others, self-worth and accomplishment are earned over time and can continue to spur happiness as we reflect back on overcoming of some obstacle and achieving something meaningful. Perhaps self-worth is developed through our investment of time, energy, and emotion toward a greater cause. The incorporation of both negative and positive feelings, of overcoming something significant, and of accomplishing something meaningful.
And yet, society constantly entices us with the high-frequency jolts of happiness, the latest gadget, this season's new styles, the newest season of that show. The path toward self worth includes not just accomplishing something meaningful, but also dodging enough of these societal traps to even allow us the time and mental space to focus on what we truly want to do.
As we become increasingly bound to our devices, this becomes even more difficult with every app providing us notifications to draw us back into their world of dopamine overload.
To get beyond this draw, it takes increasing awareness, certainly one reason why mindfulness and meditation have become so much more popular in recent years. We need to take time to proactively disconnect from the constant demands on our attention to ensure we can stay in tune with ourselves and our true desires when they are present.
The pursuit of self-worth is incredibly powerful. It provides a greater sense of happiness and fulfilment than any app, game, or show ever could. And once we lay these foundations for self-worth, working toward and accomplishing something meaningful, we can reach back to them and feel a dose of happiness each time we remember or tell the story. The investment continues to pay off throughout our lives, a far more sustainable happiness from the one-and-done high frequency dopamine triggers.
In our lives, we now carve out time to live in analog, setting our digital devices aside so we can live more intentionally. Creating the space for meditation, exercise, conversation, writing, reading (especially long-form works), travel, and our personal or work-related projects. Even if it takes effort, even if it isn't the easiest path to immediate pleasure, this has become the time we find the most enjoyment in our lives, bringing us self-worth and accomplishment. -T