Today, Be Anything but Happy

A pineapple on the beach

Sometimes I read stuff like this article called “Why Pursuing Happiness is the Greatest Goal” and wonder why traditional advice doesn’t seem to apply to me.

I just absently blink at 90 percent of the “awesome truths” that “change people’s lives.” When I try to apply them to my own life, I end up totally dissatisfied, living in a yurt with a mouthful of chia seeds dribbling down my face, yelling positive affirmations into the mirror.

I’m pretty sure if there is anything that makes humans miserable, it’s chasing happiness.

Knowing that it’s The Goal of almost everyone I know is so tragic I can’t. Hardly. Even.

Before you get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with happiness…It’s just not a goal. And exalting one emotion doesn’t sit well with me

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Happiness is NOT a good goal

As a goal it’s fucking ridiculous; as a system it’s terrible. You can not “work” towards “happiness.” It’s like trying to “ski” towards “undecided:” it’s not snowing, that’s not how you get there, we aren’t on a mountain…and…just…no.

Working toward happiness is intangible hobblegog. Think about it.

How can you recognize a non-goal?

Calling these things out by name always seems to be the first step. It’s like Voldemort. I’ll say it: “Volde-happiness in not a goal.”

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You can tell you have a crap goal when the breadth of its fingers reach too far. When you try to conceptualize a goal and it ends up wildly disjointed, you don’t have a goal.

The ambiguous hodgepodge goal of “happiness” is ever-reaching. You try to write it down and it comes out this scribbly mess that covers everything from love and marriage to material stuff. It dips its toes into meal prep, veers off into pet ownership, debt relief, then circles back to freezer meals. It’s like a millennial who can’t pick a major: directionless and ultimately headed towards disappointment (sorry millennials).

It’s ambiguous. We have bullet journals and to-do lists and schedules and software for schedules. But for some reason none of these can be used to quantify or organize “happiness.”

Don’t start shitting on journals and to-do lists either. “Everything can’t be so tidy and organized and fit on paper, DGGYST, you cold hearted shrew.”

Like hell it can’t.

We have systems for everything else and they work. Happiness is not some princess we have to cart around on its own special pillow and expect not to follow any of the rules. Don’t treat something like a goal that can’t be held to the standards of, you know, a real goal.

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Real goal, you say?

There are a few magical forces in the world that legit blow my mind. One of them is the power of setting an intention for the day.

I set one of four intentions for the day. I’ve never needed more than four. I wake up every morning and I say, “Today I will…”

These are the only four goals I ever have. Ever. “Today, I will be happy” has never come out of my mouth. But here are the things that have:

Today I will:

Be relaxed

If your goal for today was “be relaxed,” there are steps and systems you can actively take to make that a reality. You may not be able to be relaxed the whole day, but enjoying a bubble bath, a massage, stretching, a walk in nature, an orgasm, a good book, a cup of cocoa, and you have taken actual steps to achieve an actual goal.

Be social

Again, real phones can be picked up to call real people. Which can be used to arrange real meetings at real coffee shops for real conversations.

Be productive

Food can be cooked, emails can be sent, floors can be swept, and bills can be paid.

Be creative

When I spend an afternoon on a rainy day writing and painting in my studio, guess what? I have a blog post or story and an actual painting to show for it.

Humans need something to show for the day. They need concrete statements: I painted a painting, I took a walk, I caught up with an old friend. “I was happy” doesn’t happen; there is nothing to show.

Not only is happiness a crap goal; it’s a crap emotion

Happiness: the emotion we want to experience most but understand the least. I use the word happiness in my vocabulary to mean “it brought a smile to my face.”

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Because really I have no fucking idea what it means.

I know what it means to be fascinated. I know what it means to be entertained. I know what it means to be excited I know what it means to be satisfied.

And coincidentally, I know what fascinates and entertains and excites and satisfies me and how to take steps toward achieving those emotions. But happy… Happy just kind of happens.

If you want to get your shit together, stop trying to be happy. There are a lot better goals to have.

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130 thoughts on “Today, Be Anything but Happy

  1. Hmmm… my cop-out my entire life when asked what I want to be when I got older was ‘to be happy.’ Now that I’m considered an adult, I’m asked what do I want in 5-10 years, and I still say ‘to be happy.’ I think I’ve reach my childhood goal as I’m overall happy with my life, but now, I have some serious considering to do because of this… you do make some rather interesting points, that’s for sure!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Happy isn’t a goal, like you said, it’s something that happens. It happens when you actively DO things in your life. Like you mentioned, set intentions for the day. When you accomplish little things, you start to feel a positive emotion that might be able to be deemed happiness. It’s not something that comes from one day or one action though, it’s from getting to a point in your life when you realize that you have control. Not over everything, of course, but at least over the little things. Happiness is what happens when you realize that you can set the course of your day. It can take a while to get there, and a lot of falling off the wagon, and most people don’t get there, or at least not until it’s too late. You are 100% right though, take those steps that you can control, do the little things, and start to notice that pattern in your life. You won’t “achieve” happiness, or “get” happiness, or “attain” happiness, but you’ll find a sense of calm in your life and realize that happiness is simply the choice to actively live your life and not expect things. Definitely like this post a lot!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Katharine Hepburn was once asked if she was a happy person, and she replied, “I don’t know what one means by happiness… if I’m eating chocolate turtles I am happy. When I run out of chocolate turtles, I am sad. When I get a new box of chocolate turtles, I am happy again.” Not really a sustainable program, but a good definition. For Katharine and me anyway.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I love, love, LOVE this post!! My goal is to eat healthy, to exercise and to take regular shits, because when I do, I feel fucking fantastic and, umm, happy!! Funny how that works! And my goal is also to be kind, to love, to laugh and to connect with people who have the power to change my life…which is what connecting with you has done for me. See? You + me = happy! 😍

    Liked by 6 people

    1. “My goal is to eat healthy, to exercise and to take regular shits, because when I do, I feel fucking fantastic and, umm, happy!!” <———- lmaoooo… tell me about it right…lol… amen… and amen…!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Happiness is not my goal, nor has it ever been.
    My goals are to have shiny things, to live in a comfortable home that doesn’t have Magnolia coloured walls, and enough green tea that it will slowly start to replace my blood until I start looking like a Vulcan, because I have hazel eyes and I like to match.
    As long as I can see some beauty in the world, or hold some beauty in my hands, I’m good to go.
    I don’t aim for a happy life, but a beautiful one; happiness doesn’t get a shoe in the door, because all the beautiful things I have collected over the years (from memories to memoirs) is taking up too much room, and I’m ok with that.
    As always, a beautifully and insightful written post xx

    P.S. the crappest of crap emotions is Hope. Hope is just the worst.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I love this post, some of it is so spot on!
    Most emotions are very subjective but happiness sits at the top of the pile of subjectivity in my opinion.
    My goals are simple, create memories and Carpe Momentum
    Life is short and we never know how many moments we have left so lets not waste any!!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I don’t think happiness is a noun. Maybe it is, I sucked at sentence stucture. What makes you happy… sometimes its beer, or a smoke, or a yougurt and excercise… no excercise has never made me happy. I do like intention. I have one of those nasty journals where I wrtie down my goals… I also have cheep ass tablets I write down things I do that fuck up my goals and once those are full I throw them away, who needs to revisit that shit? (By the way, I go through a lot of cheap ass tablets.) I do want to lead my life with intention and that is the only way to ever meet my goals… Maybe intention shoud be a goal in itself. Now I’m confused. Damn. Great Post- really got me thinking! ~Kim

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I know. One turn deserves another. 😉

    Around the turn of the century I became an avid student of the positive psychology movement. On my bookcase, behind me, are such luminary tomes as “The Happiness Hypothesis,” “Authentic Happiness,” “The How of Happiness,” “Finding Flow,” “Positivity,” and “Achieving Happiness With Your Pants On.” One of those mentioned might not actually be a book.

    Needless to say, I was searching for something very distinct around the turn of the century. Three guesses what…

    I never found it. I mean, I never found it in a book or by spending my time chasing it as a goal. What I was really searching for was something called “appreciation.” See, I had so many great things in my life, so many great people, but something was always missing. I had to learn to appreciate the goodness in life, because it is in the appreciation of such things that we find happiness.

    Happiness is not a goal. It is a state of being, and something we find when we seek the things that make us happy. Things like relaxation and being social and productive and creative.

    Thank you for the excellent reminder, and thank you for saying it in that DGGYST way we’ve all come to know and love.

    You can have your sandwich back now. I only ate the crust. 😎

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Aw! hahahaha, ” Achieving happiness with your pants on” was about to go on my X-mas list. I feel the need to put an edit into my post. Mostly, one emotion shouldn’t be exhalted and stalked after…it’s a weird thing to do if you think about it lol

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “Happiness” is definitely an interesting, evasive topic. Ironically, I was feeling very zen and happy with my mug of earl grey tea when I came upon your post telling me not to be happy today xDDD but yeah, the little things, eh? Not an end all be all goal, I hear ya. Because life fluctuates and every feeling is ephemeral.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I agree that chasing happiness as something-to-be-in-the-future is pretty pointless, because when you get to the place that you think will make you happy you’ll more than likely figure out something else to aim for that you think will make you happy! I also hear people say “be happy with your life today”, and I do get the sentiment but I also have trouble. Not because I’m not happy with my life but there are some days which can be really crap and it’s hard to be happy in those moments!

    Like you say, aiming for other goals each day seems like a good idea. Maybe I need to do some “Today I will…” which I know help to lift my mood and feel like I’ve had a good day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, and happiness is an emotion, not a goal. You can go through a day feeling excited and alive and content and relaxed and euphoric, but if you don’t achieve “happiness” its somehow a failure.


  11. I had just started doing behavioral therapy when someone told me that by chasing happiness I was actually making myself unhappier. My mind was blown, because I had never realized how true that was before!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think of happiness as contentment – but it’s not a goal. It’s a byproduct.
    It has been said that everyone needs something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.
    George Bernard Shaw said, “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You cannot really plan for happiness as often unexpected things make you happy and sometimes things we are trying to get, don’t bring us happiness we expected from them. That being said, I would be happy if somebody cooked my food and cleaned my house but I am also happy that I can do it myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I worked in the addictions field for years. Many of the folks I worked with thought they were broken for not being “happy” ALL the time… and when they began recovery… dear god… the artificial “happiness” they got feeding their brains with chemicals had them in a “happiness” deficit. Relearning what true happiness was… day to day mundane happiness… tiny moments of “this is nice”… was the HARDEST thing about recovery! And I believe the hardest thing about our western lives. Advertising tells us THIS product or THAT thing or BLAH BLAH trip/experience will make us HAPPY – but it’s fleeting! Social media making us believe “but THEY are happy, and THEM, and what about THOSE guys! HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!” It’s all crap, guys. NO ONE is happy all the time. Period.

    Someone is lonely – goes to the doctor – gets prescribed meds. Someone is grieving – goes to the doctor – gets prescribed meds. Someone is feeling sh*t in their relationship – goes to the doctor – gets meds. Dear god. How about we accept ALL of our emotions, embrace them, feel them, and make changes in our lives accordingly? I’ll be weirdly honest – feeling sad makes me feel ALIVE! Truly alive! I’ve had SERIOUS bouts of depression. People thing that means feeling sad. Nope. It’s feeling NUMB. Feeling NUMB was the WORST! Feeling my full range of emotions… that’s LIVING MAN!

    We will be tortured souls if the pursuit of happiness is our main “goal” in life. So yea. Point is. LOVE THIS POST!!! xo

    Rant. Done. LMAO

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Nicely put, makes me think… What about acceptance? Can that be a goal? I mean of course a “happy” life sounds better than a “sad” one but then there is no such thing as that either, I guess life cant be classified into a single emotion. If we reach acceptance, perhaps a happy state of being follows.
    And if that doesn’t work, keep buying chocolate turtles.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I used to have being happy as being a goal, because I hated being sad. But you’re right, it’s a complicated emotion because what really defines happiness? You can’t just make a plan to be happy, it’s something that just kind of happens. If you reach it, then great! But you can’t make it a goal. You can’t write it on your to-do list, like you said. It doesn’t work that way. I’d rather focus on getting shit done these days.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Turns out that I’m guilty of having a non-goal. I’m one of those, unfortunately. Thanks for this great post. It surely has given me a new lens, so to speak. Now, I really should be less crappy with my goals. Having a couple of intentions for the day is the better way to go!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Ok, I’m in the “happy” business, so you made me shake my head a bit here. I think it’s a perspective thing. I like to say that I “allow” happiness into my life by not giving un-happy stuff much real estate in my brain. That’s the intention that I set each day ~ stay in a happy place by ignoring petty and ignoring things that are going to knock me off my happy spot. When “bad” things happen (which is rare), I stay flying high by reminding myself that hey, I’ve survived all my worst days so far, it’s gonna be fine! So maybe it’s not a bullet point on a list so much as just a way of life that you can acclimate to with practice!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Readers, if you haven’t checked out the “JustGetHappyBlog” Do it. This woman is so wise and so fun.
      I love your approach to life. You don’t tolerate toxic things in your life that make you miserable, and that leads to your happiness, and you are so powerful because of it. This post, for me, was seeing people put a singular emotion onto a pedestal and worshipping it. So having a goal of : I want to eliminate the meaningless things from my life, is a great. But ” I want to be happy” too ambiguous for my tastes 😉 Thank you for your comment lovely

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I really like this post, it’s like a breath of fresh air to see that not everyone places happiness as their goal, it’s more about the other things you do that make you satisfied with life which eventually lead up to happiness. I personally think happiness can be achieved in many different ways for different people and therefore for someone to preach how to be happy is ridiculous, as you mentioned. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Which reminds me – floors to be swept, bills to be paid, dinner to be made and that’s enough planning for one day. Now sth tangible – coffee to be cooked. Feeling happy already.
    Great post, like always. Watch it girl, the expectations are rather high now.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Agree with so very much of this. I’m all for contentment and mindfulness of the moment personally. Pursuing happiness as a goal? Yeah, what even is that? And even if you found it, it’s only a matter of time before something else somewhere goes to the crapper. Be content in the moment. We all want happiness, but as a goal, it’d be like chasing the air, it’s nowhere to seen but found everywhere found. Mindfulness. That’s my ticket. Thats why reading cards I’m not the norm that you’d find. I could even be the anti Tarot Tarot Reader. I have to go a different route because life sometimes gets messy, often of no fault of our own and isn’t always so sweet and fluffy no matter how much pretty pink glitter you sprinkle on it. Happiness can be found in doing the dishes, be thankful you have them, they remind you you’ve had food to eat when so many others have none. Hmm, that sounds like happiness to me, and also awful Zen. Zen. Damn Girl! Am I Buddist? And didn’t even realize! Wth. Loved this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Yes, be creative, social, productive, and I’d love to help with the relaxed part, but there is another problem, and this works better for guys. The word “happiness” should be accented on the second syllable. Can you say, “Such happiness!” with the accent changed? See how that works?

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Damn girl, no tiptoeing going on here! 🙂 You just embody tenacity, fearlessness and authenticity…so fucking good…and exceptional.

    This I know to be true: strong, smart, opinionated, capable (no, fuck that, unstoppable) women scare the shit out of most people. People don’t know what to do with us, especially when we do the even more unthinkable: speak our minds, screaming it if we have to. Add that to having the ‘audacity’ to go against the status quo or ‘truths’ that are swallowed whole by people unwilling to consider another perspective…. well, we are fucked as far as the whole ‘loved and adored by all’ thing goes.

    You are a voice so many don’t have and wish they did. I hope you always embrace that and speak your truth in a way that feels authentic and empowering to you and only you. That is the only thing that matters. And to be very clear, I am one of the countless others who love and adore you!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much. It’s funn, in my head I add so much sugar to these posts, I’m like “thats soft and sweet right?” and People are like “Dayummm, tell us how you really feel!” haha! Because the first draft is essentially ” Ahhhh Ah AH!” Love you Brooke, I hope you like your button!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I love this. Truly, I do…. I never thought about it this way, but it really makes a lot of sense. I don’t let stuff weigh me down, though sometimes I admit, I lose my shit….

    A few years back, I was freaking out towards my kids (over something inconsequential, I’m sure), and my son wrote me an apology of sorts. It didn’t say that he was sorry for making me nut up, but that he was sorry that my day did not turn out how I expected….. Nothing like a great life philosophy coming from a 6 year old (at the time). It made me realize that I wasn’t upset at their actions, but that I was upset about my expectations. Managing expectations has led to feeling happy more often than not.

    I have never quantified happiness as a goal or as “thing” that someone else can take away. I always tell my kids “today is a good day, to have a good day – the choice is yours”.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Yes, yes and YES! Finally someone said it! I thought I was crazy and miserable for a moment. What makes each individual happy is up to them, but they should be attainable goals. Simplicity is the key! What makes me happy? Binge watching Netflix while I fold laundry and the kids are preoccupied and not fighting. THAT’S happiness! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  26. “It’s like a millennial who can’t pick a major: directionless and ultimately headed towards disappointment” Damn, girl, just @ me next time. Lol!

    Happiness isn’t a goal. Happiness is a result of fulfilled goals. Like, I know what makes me happy. Kittens make me happy. Goal: Watch kitten videos on YouTube for an hour. Action: I watch kitten videos on YouTube for two hours (because YouTube is a vortex that sucks you in and you sit down at noon and look up ten minutes later and it’s 8:45 and you haven’t peed since you got out of bed). Result: Happiness.

    Also, I’ve been in enough therapy to know that refusing to acknowledge the validity and necessity of “negative” emotions is craaaaazy unhealthy! You can’t get past the wall if you refuse to admit it’s there.


  27. Great post. I love how you just say whats on your mind. I live in a house where whatever is in our mind just comes out of our mouths, and its refreshing to find it online. We are a happy household, but I would not say it is a goal. It is a by product of doing the things we enjoy and expressing our feelings when they are there and not burying them.
    I’m going to enjoy reading your posts!
    Enjoy your day
    Chill mom Julia

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I definitely agree! Setting and achieving goals should get you to happiness anyway. So it doesn’t need to be a goal. There’s no need to chase it.

    This is funny because I just posted about the meaning of my blog name coming from me wanting happiness in my life (I assure you it isn’t a goal of mine lol)

    And I really enjoy your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. YESSSSSSS! I love your site. Seriously, when I feel shitty it’s usually because I’m all in my head failing to take some ACTION. I call that actionating and it is stepping towards something rather than conjuring up roses and unicorns in my head. Anyway…ever since I read your post where you suggested boiling some eggs and throwing them in a bag…I’ve been a fan. For real, that one step was life-altering. My kids make barf noises when the bag full-o-eggs comes out the fridge, but who cares? They like Mama with the steady blood-sugar much better than the alternative. Take care and thanks again. ~ Viv

    Liked by 2 people

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