Pursuing Happiness is Wrong

There I said it. Cue the rock throwing…(ouch ouch ouch!)

In all the years I’ve spent coaching and even before I was a coach, I’ve never pursued happiness.

It felt wrong to me. Unproductive. Limiting even.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of HAPPINESS is:

A state of well-being, contentment, and joy.

Sounds pretty awesome right? Well, not to me.

(You’re probably picturing me as a grumpy person right now LOL)

Let me explain, starting with the definition above.

Well-being – of course we want to be in a state of well-being. However, well-being is not only achieved by aspects that improve it, but is also shaped by things that challenge it. Think of the process of hormesis, which makes the body stronger through things that may harm it.

Contentment – If we are in a state of contentment, then it also implies a static place of calm and satisfaction. Where is growth if we are sitting in contentment all the time?

Joy – This implies a state of “great delight” (Merriam-Webster). Being in this state is pleasurable for sure, but it also discounts pleasure felt in states of non-delight.

Too many people I’ve observed – and coached – who feel like they are missing out if they aren’t always in a state of happiness.

They feel discouraged. Dejected. Unmotivated. Frozen. All because they could not seem to get there to that elusive state of happiness.

It also discounts the negativity and what growth it can bring. That there isn’t validity in negative emotions where you don’t feel happiness (or joy or delight).

Folks – let me assure you that your life would improve exponentially if you didn’t discount any feelings you may experience either positive or negative!

Simply accepting that it is completely valid to feel negative emotions can be healing, earth shattering even.

What is better then, if not pursuing happiness?


Positivity means you are in a place better than before.

Your graph is moving up and to the right. And that it’s OK to experience volatility on that journey up and right.

Growth to a better place is never a straight line. It is filled with ups and downs.

The sooner you acknowledge that your journey in life is not going to be all roses and ice cream all the time, the sooner you will find resilience through tough times and find ways through them.

And that it’s OK to experience happiness and other positive feelings alongside feelings that may not be so positive.

As long as you are in a place more positive than yesterday, you are doing the right thing.

How does pursuing positivity resonate with you?

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