the pursuit of happiness

12 Hidden Gifts of Not Pursuing Happiness

“We need much less than we think we need.” —Maya Angelou

Life is difficult.

And so it is only natural for you as a human to gravitate towards happiness.

Happiness is, after all, the end goal.

In culture or more specifically, westernized culture, there is a great deal of pressure to strive for “happiness”.

It’s obvious that the benefits of happiness alone could potentially cultivate long-lasting well-being.

But the pursuit of happiness isn’t always a good thing.

Research proves that those who pursue happiness for its value are on average less happy than those who don’t obsessed over it or its byproduct.

It might sound counterproductive but the more you try to pursue happiness, the more it eludes you.

Life is best left simple.

There’s more to life than the pursuit of happiness, and even more by appreciating the .

Those of which I want to share with you below.

1. The Gift Of Understanding Your Emotional Spectrum.

It is unrealistic for you to want to be happy all the time. But at the same time, it is also normal and healthy to experience a variable range of moods, both positive and negative. Ultimately, your desirable point is to cultivate contentment and calm serenity as a neutral midpoint of emotional variability.

2. The Gift of Modesty.

“Humility involves a willingness to accept the self’s limits and its place in the grand scheme of things, accompanied by low levels of self-preoccupation.” —Pelin Kesebir

It’s known that society celebrates over-confidence, entitlement and a perpetual focus on the self. People are increasingly competitive, attention-seeking, narcissistic, and obsessed with their appearance. The act of being no one and not pursuing happiness removes you from these tendencies and allows you become more humble, which helps you cope with anxiety and lessen the guilt of not living under someone else’s predetermination of you.

3. The Gift Of Living In The Moment.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah Winfrey

The idea of being mindful — being present, being more conscious of life as it happens — may seem contradictory to those who are used to sacrificing living for pursuing their goals, but cultivating mindfulness of what’s currently happening in your life will give you a deeper appreciation in the journey of life and enjoy life that much more.

4. The Gift of Not Pursuing Personal Happiness.

The notion that you should be constantly happy is a uniquely modern and a uniquely destructive idea. When you’re greeted with a “hi, how are you?”, on impulse an immediate response is usually followed by an iteration of “great”.

Hold yourself to the truth. Whether you’re depressed or sad. Honor your emotions and allow yourself to feel the many different colors of emotions. You’re allow to appreciate and understand the spectrum of emotions.

This gift allows you to become whole again.

5. The Gift of Not Being Influenced By Cultural Happiness.

Each culture curates its form of happiness in different ways. In the westernized world, Happiness  is often construed as a positive attribute of the self, to be presumed through personal striving and achievement. Whereas in certain parts of Asian socializing and the abundance of a social community is their form of happiness.

The journey of going nowhere is meant to allow yourself to consume happiness regardless of cultural pressure.

6. The Gift Of Higher Self Control.

One of the major benefits of self-control is that it enhances mental focus and the ability to ignore negative and detrimental thoughts. The derivative factor is attention. Controlling your emotions, behavior, and desires helps regulate all of the external demands in order to function in society.

Learning this is essential in behavior to achieve goals and to avoid impulses and/or emotions that could prove to be negative

7. The Gift Of Purification.

The Greek word for “pure” is katharos. Katharos means to be clean, ethical, being free from corruption, free from mixture and genuine. Without the anticipation of going anywhere and expectation of being someone you are not, the refining process begins and the level of purity increases.

As we remove from ourselves what is not us, then others can see more clearly who we are. As this clarity increases, we’re more able to become who we’re meant to be. And find your true form of happiness.

8. The Gift of A Stabilized Mind.

The most impact of all is reaching a balanced and resilient mind, an equilibrium. Modern life does a swell job of distracting us. But perhaps the problem lies not in the modern technical world, but in ourselves and how we allow those forces to affect us. After all, we’re the ones constantly making choices about what to attend to and what to ignore.

The mind is by nature unstable, inherently distracted, and meditation is a means of stabilizing it.

9. The Gift Of Amplified Perceptions.

Perception—one of the basic constituents of the body and mind—it can be both a source of suffering and pain, as well as a source of happiness and health. Tranquility meditation is used to calm and center the mind, and insight meditation is used to understand more clearly how we ordinarily perceive ourselves and the world around us.

Alternating between these two practices, meditators cultivate purified perception as explained by the Buddha. As a result of these efforts, we progress on the path that leads to freedom, once and for all, from illness, confusion, and other forms of physical and mental suffering.

10. The Gift of Giving up on Struggle.

The Buddha framed things differently. He taught that our default mode may be to suffer, but only because of ignorance.

We can transcend a lot is by learning to quiet the mind in meditation—not merely to relax and cope with stress, as the popular notion of Buddhism holds, but to rigorously train oneself to relinquish bad mental habits. Rather than being an end in itself, meditation becomes a tool to investigate your mind and change your worldview. You’re not tuning out so much as tuning up your brain, improving your self-monitoring skills.

“You stop being always projected outside. You start looking in and seeing how your mind works, and you change your mind, thought by thought,” explains Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk,

11. The Gift Of Not Being Destructively Optimistic.

Optimism gets all the great raves. And while it’s a great mindset, there’s more to be said on the destructive nature that seeps into your life with these 2 facts:

  1. Expectations. By having a realistic approach in life, your expectations are not exceeded above a soft limit, a quality of accepting your standard of life.
  2. Preparation. Being grounded holds you true to your beliefs. This is a byproduct of resiliency, which you wouldn’t have otherwise if you wandered through life as an optimist.

12. The Gift Of Thinking Of Yourself Less.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

Research suggests that for those who base their self-esteem on career success and appearance are more incline to have volatile emotions. Conversely, those who do not tie their self-esteem as strongly to external motivators tend to have less of a “roller coaster” of emotions to the things that happen to them, and are generally more happy as a result.

Your key to exploring this realm of happiness is by finding a happy middle ground and focus more on the betterment of yourself for the sake of those around you, but rather than for your own ego.

You’re Closer than you think to setting yourself free

Life is a tricky thing. You’ll find yourself enjoying it and living in epic bliss one minute and then there are other days where everything is gray and going against you.

The key take away to letting go completely is acceptance. Don’t allow low or high experiences dictate your happiness, happiness is not a goal and you shouldn’t strive for it, by doing so, you might miss out on life’s many delights by concentrating on shiny things.

Embrace the now.

Don’t celebrate the accomplishments, but rather the journey and the unpredictable moments that life gives you.


Jesse helps you become a better version of yourself by simplifying your health and fitness goals using science-backed data. Check out his free ebook: The Minimalist Guide to Fitness Hacks.