Many self-help books and even some religions refer to happiness as “the purpose of life.”
Even if you have never read a self-help book nor are religious, you may have experienced the desire to be completely happy. True happiness is a concept that many of us are unable to describe or explain because ironically we have difficulties experiencing this amazing emotion in a continuous manner.
One day, I was thinking and analyzing the stories I have heard as a therapist and something came to my mind as if I finally found an important, if not the most important factor of why we have difficulty achieving complete happiness. This factor is what I coin as “created self-concept” which is everything we have shaped in our heads since we were little children. Our culture, our peers, and our family have influenced our thoughts and our created self-concept has been a lifetime in the making. Unfortunately, our concept of self sometimes becomes so strong that there is no place for flexibility and when it is jeopardized, we might become sad and continue to focus on the idea that our idealized self-concept was not achieved as planned. For example, a young girl believes she will be a ballerina because she comes from a family of dancers. She tells herself throughout her early years that she is going to be a successful ballerina and works hard to become a great dancer. However, the girl who longed to be a ballerina becomes a mother and is no longer able to dance, shattering her created self-concept.
Do not get me wrong; it is not that we want to focus on the unattained self-concept. I am sure the mother would rather focus on the blessing that motherhood can bring, but it is an unconscious habit leading her to focus on the longing she had to become a ballerina. Unconscious habits are difficult to change since we have not paid enough attention to our inner-self, which is required to build self-understanding and the realization of any concepts we have created for ourselves.
The question now is how do we achieve happiness after understanding our created self-concepts and their inflexibility? I think you might have the answer to this after looking into you own self -concepts. The answer is become flexible. It sounds easier than it is, but if we allow ourselves to bend the ideas of who we are “supposed to be”, how we are “supposed to live”, or what we are “supposed to think”, we become flexible to other concepts. Life does not always give us what we planned for and this is not necessarily a negative thing. Sometimes life brings us things that are even better than what we imagined. However, if we only focus on what we do NOT get as opposed to what we DO get out of life, we will continuously experience that lack of complete happiness. We must be mindful and grateful and we will find a sense of fulfilled happiness in our lives.
I hope this is helpful to you and invite you to leave feedback. I am looking forward to hearing from you.