My last post ended with the following paragraph:
Most of us seem convinced that if only certain conditions or individuals in our lives would change, then we would be happy. Sometimes those changes do occur (or we buy that advertised product), and we do experience some moments of “happiness.” But that condition-based happiness does not last and does not deeply satisfy us.
Some people achieve great “success” – professional, financial, social “success.” Most of us have a tendency to think,
if I could just become rich and famous like that, almost all my problems would be solved. Any remaining problems I could afford to address with the time and money that would be available to me. If I still had some personal psychological or physical challenges, I could afford the best professionals to help me address those challenges. I could meet the needs of those closest to me in a way that would create satisfying relationships for me. Or, if necessary, I could move on to new, happier relationships.
But if we look hard at the lives of the rich and famous, and at the lives of those who win big time on the lottery, we see that these conditions have not brought them long-term happiness. In fact, studies of lottery winners seem to show that after a few years many of them are actually less happy than they were before their “life-changing” win.
Our culture has convinced most of us that improved outer conditions can bring us the happiness we long for, so that becomes our goal. But we’ve put the cart before the horse.
We devote energy to the pursuit of changed life conditions at the expense of neglecting pursuits that might actually deliver the happiness we are looking for. In fact, “happiness” may not be the best word to describe what we are really looking for. I think what we are actually seeking is better described as fulfillment or deep inner peace.
Deep inner peace is independent of those outer conditions that we are so often convinced will get us happiness or peace. In my experience, inner peace is more the result of how we respond to our life conditions, rather than the conditions themselves. Can you observe this principle at work in your life?
Next time I will offer some suggested ways to cultivate beneficial responses to our life conditions.
Until then . . .