Can you define Happiness?
Do you have Happiness?
Is Happiness the key to success?
In this day and age is Happiness attainable when trying to achieve excellence?
If yes then what is Happiness?
Yes in true Eloise style I am jumping straight into the deep end and asking the big questions. To be honest over the last 12 days I have been thinking, speaking with others and reading into what happiness really is in everyday life and in the pursuit of excellence.
So when you whack “Happiness” into the good old thesaurus words such as pleasure, joy, well-being, enjoyment, satisfaction and contentment pop up. Makes sense as they are all positive words that to me describe what I would associate with being happy. However, I am going to put it out there that when diving deeper into what society expects of happiness, due to the powers of social media this is not always the case.
A recent interview with Simon Sinek (available here – ironically yes on social media!) describes the effects of social media and our current society on the “millennial” generation. The changes in self-esteem due to the “expectations” of life spread across social media is affecting the motivation, drive and overall happiness across this generation.
To me this makes a lot of sense and resonates. It can be directly related to the paradox of the pursuit of happiness through success, for example in a sport.
Ok now for an easier question – why did you start triathlon, or any hobby for that matter?
Actually I am going to answer it for you – because you wanted to and enjoyed it. The very fact it is a “hobby: an activity done in one’s leisure time for pleasure” is why. And oh yes it is no coincidence that pleasure pops up in this definition – synonym of happiness! I am not sure about you but I didn’t start triathlon because I hated it, I started it because I loved challenging myself day in day out surrounded but great friends to have a laugh with as I once again I fell flat on my face. Sounds like “hobby” to me!
Oh that is sweet Eloise but what is your point?
Well just from observations, conversations and experience I want to discuss how sometimes this pursuit of happiness is clouded by the pursuit of excellence. So at what point does this hobby that was started for pleasure become an obsession, chore and routine? I see many triathletes start worrying about 5am alarms, rest days become blasphemy and conversations get limited to watts, race weight and training. How is this now a hobby, this sounds and looks more like a “chore: a tedious but necessary task.” Triathlon is not a necessary task, it just can’t be if you started it as a hobby. I do feel that without even knowing this pursuit of happiness turns stale as individuals starts pushing for excellence which creates the illusion that it is still all for pleasure and enjoyment.
If you are still with me, always questionable, then I am going to try and answer why this happens – even try and approach the “PRO” question: job vs. hobby.
I do believe a lot is to do with social media and the perspective it gives that everyone is hitting every time, eating the “perfect” diet and every moment is the “best” ever. Sinek touches on this, social media creates a mountain where individuals only see the summit being “happiness” and perfect, not the path, which leads individuals to pursue extreme, obsessive and irrational tendencies through not only the need for approval by society but also to do the “impossible.” The almost “set up to fail” scenario, as hey we all know you can’t summit Everest in a day, creates the vicious circle of needing to further control, obsess and attain approval to maybe, just maybe attain this “happiness.”
Ok so what about professionals, especially as I do want to become one, am I going to become a hypocrite when my “hobby” turns to a “job: a paid position of regular employment?”
The simple answer is NO! Why can I not love my job, want to have fun in sessions, and share the times with my friends because at the end of the day this job has still been derived from a hobby – something I did for pleasure. The very fact this “job” cannot last forever shows the need to balance and keep the enjoyment throughout my life because otherwise when it is all over what will I have, be able to do and most importantly how will I ever achieve happiness when all the “success” is gone? The truth is it will be unattainable.
Yes, I know this is extreme explanation but even on a spectrum it is everywhere especially in a sport which attracts a certain type of individual. I do find it sad that the very thing we all started for fun can turn stale and becomes more self-destructive than anything else. I am the first to admit it happens and that it also sucks – I ruined my love and hobby that was lacrosse the very same way, my pursuit for excellence became self-destructive and so yes, I was doomed to fail – and I did.
I am not sure if this makes any sense to anyone else but me however, I hope it shows that it is OK to love what you do, have fun on the job and laugh at yourself even when trying to achieve excellence, as at the end of the day it is still all derived from that hobby you started for happiness.
I am going to leave you with something I was told a few weeks ago. Just think “Cool Runnings” – when the Jamaican bobsleigh team tried to copy the Germans and take themselves too seriously they sucked, however as soon as they became themselves and had some fun (lucky egg and all) they succeeded whilst becoming heroes…
“Be yourself; everyone else is taken” – Oscar Wilde
Lots of love and keep smiling,