The desire to be happy takes many forms.
For simplicity sake I’ll just talk about two forms of desire for happiness. One type of desire to be happy looks to be the strongest, but in fact, doesn’t really facilitate any change. The second form of desire doesn’t look that strong, but is what is necessary to carry you through the potholes on your path to happiness.
The big difference is that when you declare, “I want to be happy,” what is your time line?
The first type of desire to be happy is anxious and in a hurry. There is a sense of urgency. In this state people want an emotional change and they want it today. This state of desire is usually filled with unpleasant emotions such as frustration, anger, and feeling annoyed with the way things are in life.
This desire isn’t so much desire as frustration, restlessness, and irritation. There is actually more emotion than desire. From this state of emotion people will wish for change and want it immediately. The internal dialogue may be something like, “I want this unhappiness to stop,” or, “I’d give anything to be happy right now.”
Some of the desire is genuine; it’s just that there isn’t very much of it. Mostly there is a lot of unpleasant emotions. If we really want to be happy we will have to discern between desire and emotion.
What a person wants is relief from their current emotional state of misery. They will be satisfied with a temporary fix. They think of emotion as a mood and a person will do something to distract themselves from what they are feeling. (sometimes called denial) They will call a friend, go shopping, or listen to music, or have a couple drinks. After a night of sleep they will get busy with their day and lose their attention on the tasks in front of them. In their busyness of distractions their emotions have changed.
The desire to be happy faded with the unhappiness. Once the unpleasant emotion wasn’t there, either through denial or just too busy to notice it, the desire was gone also. Later in the week they no longer think about what they were feeling two or three days earlier. They tell themselves it’s all over and better now. The next time they feel unhappy they don’t connect it with the previous experience, or the 10 previous times. Because their desire is based in their mood there is no sustained action and therefore, nothing really changes.
This isn’t a real desire to be happy so much as an emotional reaction to unhappiness.
Real desire to be happy is much different. It comes from deep within from a place I will call your integrity. Genuine desire to be happy comes with a quiet calm and a focused resolve that doesn’t waver. It manifests as committed actions over long periods of time.
When there is genuine desire it gives rise to a solid commitment. That commitment takes the form of action on your own behalf. You no longer believe the excuses you tell your self about putting things off or your own needs and wants not being important.
There is a realization that being happy in one’s life is important and worth the investment of time and resources. Because of the priority, there is a sense that it doesn’t really matter how long it takes. It will be worth it. The urgency for happiness is gone and is replaced with steadfastness resolve.
With sustaining desire the internal or external dialogue will be like, “I will happy no matter what.” Or, “It’s that important to me, I’ll work at it every day until I get there.”
You no longer care whether you are happy or unhappy for a moment or a day. Your concern is for something much bigger. You are focused on happiness for the years of your life to come. Your determination is strong and sustaining in a way that the emotions of one day are of little consequence to your larger goal.
With genuine desire to be happy you no longer look for quick fixes and pills. The importance is too high to relegate the solution to the cheapest and fastest solution. Instead you are willing to invest time and effort in your emotional well being.
Genuine desire to be happy isn’t subject to mood and the emotional reaction of the moment. People with genuine desire are willing to take many small steps to happiness because being happy is an important priority in their life.
Ask your self if you want to be happy for the rest of your life. If the answer is yes, then ask your self that same question several times a day until it becomes such a priority that you begin taking actions on behalf of your own happiness.
The stages of progress are: 1. Unhappiness 2.Desire 3.Commitment 4.Actions 5. Happiness
I’ll write about the importance of making a commitment to happiness a bit later.
If you seek specific actions to put behind your desire to be happy I suggest practicing the exercises in the Self Mastery Course.2