Happiness is Not a Destination

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A common answer to the question “what do you want from life?” is happiness. Happiness is an emotional state, not a final destination. Emotions are ultimately directions on our compass, where positive emotions are rewarding us for good behavior and negative emotions are telling us something is wrong. This is not a hard rule, however, as drugs and addictions can temporarily produce elated states and similarly negative emotions can be the catalysts for great change. By running away from negative emotions we limit ourselves. A great deal of positive can grow from the negative if you cultivate it properly.

 

That doesn’t answer the question on how to get the most out of life. The most satisfaction, reward, purpose, etc. I’m not quite sure either as I’m still figuring it out. I believe the truth lies somewhere in continuous improvement, growth, learning, and service for others. Service does not necessarily have to be volunteering in the traditional sense – rather it is anything that brings value or joy to other people. That can be playing music, teaching, practicing medicine, or something else entirely (like creating a YouTube channel to empower students pursuing a career in medicine).

 

Another way to calibrate your trajectory is to ask yourself

  1. “What makes me the most happy and how can I share this joy with others?”
  2. “What are some of the challenges the world faces now or in the future and how can I do my part to make it a better place?”

 

It’s at least a good place to start.

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