Everything About Happiness Has Been Said – So Why Are We Still Unhappy?


The most common request I hear as a coach is, “I want to be happier.”

When I ask why, the checkbox conversation begins – which “unchecked” box is the cause of the unhappiness.

“I have a great relationship, but my finances are a problem.”

“I have plenty of money, but my relationship is not good.”

“I have a great relationship, but I want kids or I want more kids.”

Check all the boxes and happiness will come and life will be grand.


What does that even look like? Are you happy forever? Can all the boxes ever stay checked all at the same time? And, if they are, will you feel perfect every day?

I believed this to be true. And I was wrong.

What Did The Giants Think?


“These virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions … The good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life.”

Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

“Happiness then, is found to be something perfect and self sufficient, being the end to which our actions are directed.”

Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics


“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”

– Plato

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

– Socrates


2.42. “By contentment, supreme joy is gained. Contentment is perfected in the absence of cravings. It is the experience that nothing is lacking, that everything that happens is an integral part of a Divine Plan. The result is a joy that transcends transitory pleasures and almost perfectly reflects the supreme bliss of the Self. Joy is not an accident or a blessing that is arbitrarily bestowed by a capricious Deity. It is the outcome of cultivating a vision of life that “sees” the unity of the Self behind the diversity of names and forms.”

-Inside The Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Sourcebook for the Study and Practice of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras by Jaganath Carrera

Positive Psychology:

“Remember that how we experience the world is shaped largely by our mindset.”

“For me, happiness is the joy we feel striving after our potential.”

-The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor

What Are They Saying In Common

Aristotle – Our soul is working towards our virtues.

Plato – I know nothing, only wisdom.

Sutras – Don’t confuse the self with the seen world.

Modern psychology – Happiness comes from striving after our potential.

Virtue. Wisdom. Divine Within. Potential.

No one mentioned checkboxes. No one mentioned conformity. No one mentioned finding happiness through money, success, attaining more, or comforts.

No one said happiness is found outside yourself. We are looking for happiness in the wrong places.

Happiness is found within. Once we locate our internal compass, unique self, authentic voice, we must listen to it, honor it, and act based on its desires. The actualization of self, the seeker of wisdom, the soul’s journey towards virtue, creates our happiness. Actions from this space make us happier.

Striving to be happy without the leadership of your inner voice is the surest way to find unhappiness.

What Does That Mean For My Happiness?

Strive to find your potential, virtue, and the divine within.  What is your truth? What wakes you up? What brings a smile to your face? Your potential rests within, waiting to be awoken with your attention.

All the hours spent scanning the outside world for happiness are wasted energy. The approach is upside down. Start with yourself, not the outside world, then look to the world to find a match.

The answers you seek for happiness are not on someone’s checklist: they are within; they are subtle; they are a sense. Your job is to discover what that sense is.

You want to find more happiness? Put words to that inner sense. Give a voice to the part of you that can’t wait to work on something new, love more, or take an adventure.

What is your voice telling you?  Write what you hear, see, or feel on a piece of paper. Number them, in order from 1 to 10. Remember, “should” “can’t” will destroy your list. Should and can’t are not the voice of your true self.

Are you done? Did you avoid the shoulds and can’ts? Yes? Congratulations. You have found your roadmap to your unique happiness. Take one step today. What is #1 on your list? My #1 was to write. My action was to buy a computer. Can you take one action today?

This is your life’s checklist and the only one that matters, well, that is if you want to be happy.

What action did you take? Send me a note. I love to hear what people try.

For more raw, powerful writing follow Heart Catalog here.

This post originally appeared at Emotional Obesity.