Should You Do Whatever Makes You Happy?
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If It Makes You Happy
I hear this repeatedly, “If it makes you happy, do it.” Something about that expression has always seemed empty to me. It sounds abrupt and selfish, as if to say, “At the expense of others, do whatever makes you happy.” I know that personal happiness isn’t always to the detriment of other people, but it does make me want to think beyond this idea that regardless of what others believe about me, that I should just go on doing whatever makes me happy. Sometimes, when I do what makes me happy, it pricks my conscience. That doesn’t mean I set up camp in a pit of personal delinquency, but it means that I want to do some introspection. Are my feelings correct? When I’m happy and I sense other’s dissaproval, I find myself caring what other people think. Are they the people whose thoughts and opinions matter, or are they the ones who shouldn’t be allowed that kind of power? Is it okay to just do whatever makes me happy? Is God disappointed or does he want us to simply be happy humans? Do we have divine permission to march full steam ahead in the pursuit of our own happiness? I know that’s a lot of questions.
Your Happiness Alone Is An Incomplete Sentence
We were created to enjoy life, to explore the world around us, to find happiness and fulfillment. Doing what makes you happy isn’t wrong, but left by itself, it is incomplete. We live in a world of incomplete sentences. Statements like, “I don’t care what anyone else thinks.” or “I do whatever makes me happy.” are not a complete process. They represent the fact that the person is attempting to guard or protect something that’s valuable to them but may not ultimately be healthy or what’s for their personal best. A deeper and more honest expression would be, “I don’t care what anyone else thinks unless they are people I love and respect. It would be wise for me to consider what they think about my actions.” or “I do whatever makes me happy, provided I’m considering others first.”
If It Brings You Life
Being alive means that you are in continuous pursuit of change throughout the entire journey leading to death. We’re all heading in that direction, and whether you consider this condition to be merely biological or both biological and spiritual, we have been given the gift of functional activity and the ability for continual growth all throughout our life. Many times, when we adopt the idea of doing whatever makes us happy, the result of happiness may be immediate, but it doesn’t take long before realizing that it lacks long-term fulfillment.
The things that positively contribute the most to your life and to the lives of those around you, might not make you feel happy at the moment. That’s why trying to measure the best outcome with the yard stick of whatever makes you happy, can be a dangerous platitude. Ask yourself, “Does this bring me life?” Is what I’m doing now contributing to the most fulfilling and generous life? Am I taking the time to consider the ideas and opinions of people who matter, even if it’s a short list?” Instead of doing whatever makes you happy, focus on making continuous, positive contributions to your life and to the lives of those around you. Doing whatever brings you life can sometimes be harder to consider because the actions aren’t necessarily as simple but will yield a life of long-term happiness and fulfillment.
Doing What Brings You Life Is A Higher Level Skill
Doing what makes you happy is basic, it’s elementary, it’s a starting point, but it is not the finish line. Happiness is the reason children run, and explore, and play, and giggle. Uninhibited happiness is good. Life experience and growth challenge us to make choices on what brings life over the simplicity of what brings happiness. Think about this the next time you hear the expression, “Do whatever makes you happy.” Being in constant pursuit of the things that bring life to you and those around you, is a profound and graduated skill far above and beyond happiness all by itself.
Dawna LS Wilson
Dawna Stafford Music
Dawna is a northwest singer-songwriter and cover song artist based in Spokane and Northern Idaho. Described as a folk-rock star, her acoustic arrangements and vocals are soulful and raw. Her style is an upbeat fusion of modern folk and light rock, delivering live performances that are fun, diverse and relatable. Audiences love the dynamic range from upbeat and tempo driven to melodic and thoughtful. Dawna is a versatile artist who knows how to engage and entertain people with a mix of both originals and familiar cover songs that span the decades.