I was listening to an interview with Mark Brooks (author of The Second Mountain), and I was captivated by his take on today’s society. According to Mark, we live in a time of hyper-individualism. Our society suffers from a crisis of connection and a crisis of solidarity. I agree, as we all see it and all feel it. We have incredible technology to make connecting easier than it has ever been before. Yet, it has created just as many boundaries as it has brought us in touch with each other.
One idea that emerged from Mark’s speaking is this:
Happiness cannot be achieved alone or on an individual level. It can only happen with others and building/creating with others.
I would take this one step further. Happiness is just one of the six emotions that, like all emotions, is fleeting. Happiness is not a destination to achieve and is not sustainable. What is attainable? Joy and contentment.
When you center your life around building relationships, where the focus is not on yourself but serving your connections, joy, and contentment are found.
All of life is about relationships. Then the question becomes, how are you serving your relationships?
Mark also listed four common lies that cripple our ability to build a joyful life. These are silent lies that are carried out in our society. Hopefully, after reading the list below, you can pull these dysfunctional weeds from your life and get on to joy.
1. Career success leads to lasting fulfillment. I know this one on a very personal level and know-how sneaky this lie can be. Careers are an individual pursuit. Once hit, the targets move and ask for you to hit it again and again and again. You may find a smidge of happiness here and there, but ultimately you are just chasing the horizon. How do you change this lie? Begin to try to find all the ways your work helps others in their life. If you cannot locate the connection, perhaps it is time to reassess your situation.
2. I can make myself happy. I used to think this one was true. Perhaps many of you may think the same thing…but guess what? Whenever I try to prove it right, it ends up that there was somebody else there. Somebody I was relating to that fueled the happiness. Achievements in life are great but are completely hollow if you can’t share the victory. Think about this one in your own life…I bet the lasting joy was only found with others and not solely by yourself.
3. You are not a soul to be saved but a set of skills to be maximized. The first part of this one I would alter (based on my philosophical views) to read be cultivated. The second part is spot on. How often do we show up at work to be asked, “What were your numbers yesterday?” Or, “Just work smarter, not harder, to get more done.” There is no lasting fulfillment there…like number one above, it is pure B.S….garbage….a lie. The real question I would like to be asked each day (which I ask myself every night) “How many people did you help grow today?”
4. People who have achieved a lot more are smarter and are, therefore, more valuable. This is a villainous lie that I think we all feel and create a lot of self-shame around. This one has crushed me time and time again…mostly this lie has come about through my own little voice in my head. All those negative thoughts that crop up in your noggin stem from this lie. Guess what? I don’t care what you have achieved or not achieved: YOUR LIFE IS VALUABLE AND WORTHWHILE. Judge yourself on the relationships you keep, not your individual achievements. Relationships are eternal…achievements are fleeting at best.
As we wrap this post up, I want to leave you with one additional quote from Mark:
“Happiness is the expansion of self, whereas Joy is the breaking down barriers and becoming one with other things.”
Relationships are where contented life resides.
Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash.