You’re biologically driven towards survival and mating. Happiness doesn’t even rate.
You don’t want to be happy.
I’m serious. You don’t. You don’t necessarily want to be unhappy either. You just don’t care.
As far as you’re concerned, happiness is largely irrelevant.
Now you might be thinking, hang on Dymphna. You don’t know me. We’ve only shared that one night out together on the Gold Coast, and even then the details are pretty hazy.
And I guess this is where the English language falls down a little bit. I’m talking about the ‘you’ that is a human animal, not necessarily the ‘you’ that sits behind the steering wheel of consciousness.
But I feel like I can pretty safely say that the human animal of you just doesn’t care about being happy.
And that’s because happiness isn’t a biological drive.
Being happy doesn’t necessarily help you survive. It doesn’t necessarily help you have more reproductive sex.
(I mean, look at all those models. They’re so surly, but they must be having tonnes of wonderful sex.)
Happiness doesn’t really have any bearing on your ability to pass on your genetic material.
And in that sense, happiness is irrelevant. You just don’t care if you’re happy or not.
Now, this might sound like Dymphna’s school of the obvious again, but think about this for a sec. I think it’s kind of profound.
Happiness isn’t a natural concern. That means it’s not something you’re going to naturally start thinking and strategizing about.
That’s in contrast to some other natural concerns like shelter and food
If you’re naked and cold in the forest, you’ll quickly start strategizing about ways to improve your situation. You will make it a priority.
But if you’re safe, warm and well-fed, but unhappy? That’s ok. No problem there. All I need now is a boyish model to share in my sullenness.
Happiness will never be a priority unless we consciously make it a priority.
This is a really important point. Happiness will never be a priority unless we consciously make it a priority.
We often think that happiness will just naturally come about. That if we just keep our heads down and work hard, then sooner or later the ducks of life will line up, and we’ll be happy.
But unless you’re consciously choosing to be happy, and consciously strategizing around being happy, then there will be no drive and direction towards happiness in your life.
You still might end up being happy here and there along the way. But those moments of happiness will likely be an accident.
And are you willing to leave your happiness to chance?
Especially if I tell you that it is totally within your control?
The empowered life is one where you build in a conscious drive and direction towards happiness.
The other thing I’d say is that it’s not a random process – there are attractor states.
Humans like familiarity. We like moving in realms that are familiar to us.
That’s easy to understand at a geographical level. If we’ve never found a tiger in this part of the forest, we’ll tend to come back to this part of the forest again and again because it’s familiar and it’s safe.
But what about sadness?
It feels to me that sadness can become familiar. And if we’re surviving in our sadness, and even breeding from time to time, then we’ll be biologically drawn to play out our sadness over and over again.
And since you don’t care about being happy – there’s no biological necessity – then you can get stuck in a safe sadness “attractor state”.
(I tend to talk about happiness and sadness a bit, but I think this applies to any quality you’re trying to cultivate in your life – driven vs. unmotivated; empowered vs. disempowered; disciplined vs. lazy – they all have their ruts we can get stuck in, or can be strengths we can develop.)
But the point I want to make isn’t so complex. There is no natural tendency towards happiness. If you don’t make it happen for yourself then it probably won’t happen.
That might make it sound like a lot of work, but it’s not so bad. Once you take that responsibility, there are tools for more consciously figuring out what fills your life with joy and meaning.
From there, all it takes is some consistent application, and you’re there.
Are you working with any “attractor states”?