How Pursuing Our Own Happiness Is Actually Making Us More Depressed

by Gabi Garrett
I'm afraid to be happy because whenever I'm too happy, something bad always happens.

– Charlie Brown

With happiness being the latest buzzword, we're on the constant search to create completely worry-free lives.

At times, we get so wrapped up in our journeys to happiness that we often forget stress is a natural part of them.

When things interrupt our happiness quests, we feel sad.

Our feelings of sadness may feel extra heavy because we're so focused on being at an elevated state of mind.

Recent studies led by the psychologist Iris Mauss show that the more emphasis people place on happiness, the less happy they become.

That's a startling fact for us happiness-chasers.

We may feel like we're swimming against the current and trying to create happy lives, but we're only met with intense disappointment.

In a research study done by Harvard University psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert, they found 47 percent of the people studied had "wandering minds."

These people with wandering minds were "thinking about something other than what they're doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy."

We've become too focused on our own lives and our own journeys to happiness.

We're seemingly stuck "contemplating events that happened in the past, might happen in the future, or may never happen at all."

This wandering mind creates stress and anxiety, so how do we counteract it?

Through a state of flow.

Flow can be defined as an active meditative state.

It can be any activity that creates an "in the moment" experience for you.

This can be also be defined as meditation.

Most of us hit our stride through things we have a passion for, like yoga, sports, speaking to crowds and writing.

A state of flow can also be achieved by pursuing meaning in our lives.

By pursuing meaning, we can create fulfillment in our lives.

This can rid us of the wandering mind we so often encounter while we are in states of non-flow.

Besides the fact giving to others can make us happier than giving to ourselves, creating meaning leaves us with a higher sense of purpose in our lives as well.

Here are a few ways we can seek meaning in our everyday lives:

Volunteer your time.

The most natural way to create meaning is to give your time to causes that better your community and the world.

Though spending your Saturday morning shopping used to bring you happiness, you may be surprised at the state of belonging and meaning you achieve after giving a few hours of your weekend morning to others.

As time progresses, you will feel more involved with the charitable organization of your choice, and the feeling of meaning will remain with you.

Speak and write about what you know.

Are you excellent at something?

Do you have a way of accomplishing tasks quicker than others?

Have you figured out one of life's troubles?

If you have, creating meaning can be as simple as sharing what you are good at with others who may struggle in your area of expertise.

Seeing your students excel will bring you great meaning and purpose, and it will give you a chance to practice your strengths through various outlets.

Mentor others.

If you're reading this on your smartphone or laptop, you're way better off than some people in your community.

Donate your time to mentoring those less fortunate than you, and you will provide your community with better young adults.

You will give your life more purpose as you completely change the life of someone else.

Whatever meaningful activity you choose, make sure you enjoy it by testing your state of flow.

Was your mind wandering? Were you present?

Have you stopped smiling?

This is a whole new journey, and this time, we're giving back to others.