Long-term versus short-term happiness

February 4, 2015

When you overanalyze your happiness, you start to lose it. As soon as you ask yourself, “Am I happy?” you stop being happy. It takes the focus off what you are doing in the present moment and puts the focus on expectations.


The implied message is that you “should” be happy. And once you start focusing on the “shoulds” in life, inevitably feelings of guilt follow.


The message that comes from society is that you should always be content and, if you are not, there is something wrong with you. By focusing on the “shoulds,” you miss out on all the joy that you could have had by fully appreciating the present moment.


There are actually two types of happiness: short-term and long-term. Short-term happiness is based on the emotion of excitement; long-term happiness is based on the emotion of inner-peace and tranquility.


For example, you can go out and buy yourself a new gold watch and that gives you excitement, which is a form of happiness. But that is not the only type of happiness and eventually it wears off.


You may have been excited when you graduated from school. However, years later, when you look at that diploma, do you still start dancing around? Of course not. The excitement wore off.


Long-term happiness, on the other hand, is based on inner-peace. That’s an issue of character. You don’t get it shopping in a store or when your favorite sports team wins. Long-term happiness comes from living in accordance with your own personal values.


Typically, this type of happiness comes with age and maturity as you start to establish a firm sense of identity. Then long-term happiness can bring you a sense of purpose in life.


A lot of unhappiness can be exacerbated by a negative mindset—not all, but a lot. If people are unhappy because they do not think that they have enough material possessions, I would recommend they take account of the good things in their lives.


Be satisfied with what you have. In a capitalist society that emphasizes materialism, we are programmed to be unsatisfied. We are constantly being told to buy more. Advertisements are everywhere we look, bombarding us with the message that we are not complete unless we purchase their product.


Advertisements are intended to make you feel you are lacking something. Over years of this type of conditioning, we start to think that enough is never enough, as though we need more and more and more just to feel happy—at least for a while.


This never-ending need for more actually ties in with the issue of addiction. In any type of addiction, people want more, more, more. They are pursuing short-term happiness. They wouldn’t need more if the happiness lasted forever.


Short-term happiness derived from addictive behavior involves biochemical changes in our brains. Some people literally get a boost of serotonin when they are hitting the slot machines or shopping. Soon, they become immune to the fleeting excitement of short-term happiness and constantly need another fix.


Typically, that behavior results in temporary satisfaction that eventually leads to misery. The dysfunctional activities may have started off as a way to feel good, but once they become an addiction, they are just a way to stop from feeling bad. That’s the trap!


Today’s Loving Suggestion: To achieve a greater sense of happiness that could last long-term, try letting go of your ego-fueled desires. You know the ones: insisting on having things your way, imposing your will on those around you, criticizing others, defending your opinion in an argument because you are so sure you are “right.”


Limit incessant wants, those never ending desires for more, more, more! We all have basic needs that have to be met for survival, but there is a difference between needs and wants.
Constant wants will forever keep you dissatisfied, feeling incomplete and unhappy. Be satisfied with what you have. As the old say goes, “If you want your cup to overflow, get a smaller cup.”

If you have followed any of the suggestions in the Sir Rennity feature, I would love to hear your stories. Please email me at zenithcityweekly@yahoo.com. I will keep your letters private unless you request that they be published.

The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.

Please reload

More from this Author

Archives by Date

Please reload

Archives by Title or Author