You’re Not Happy Because You’re Failing to Fulfill Your Function
“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind – driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me.” – Morpheus
Yesterday Mark Manson wrote an excellent article entitled “Stop Trying to Be Happy.” His main point is that people are looking for happiness in all the wrong places: in superficial status symbols, fleeting pleasures, and goals other people thought they should have … instead of in pursuits that are truly meaningful. He recommends instead working toward being your ideal self and enjoying the journey rather than focusing on the destination.
Mark also tackles a topic near and dear to my heart, which is what I call “fake positive thinking.” As he wisely says, “Denying negative emotion leads to deeper and more prolonged negative emotions and emotional dysfunction.” For many years, I’ve been teaching people the same principle. When we try to hide from our negative feelings and our “Shadow Self,” all we do is push the negativity underground. There the negativity actually grows but because we are denying it, it is projected outward onto the world. The way to take back authority over our lives (and regain our happiness) is to harness these negative emotions instead and use them for our growth and healing.
And Mark addresses another topic near and dear to my heart: the futile pursuit of pleasure. He writes, “Pleasure is a false god. Research shows that people who focus their energy on materialistic and superficial pleasures end up more anxious, more emotionally unstable and less happy in the long-run.” This is deeply in alignment with what I’ve been teaching people for years about transcending the pain/pleasure duality. I actually cringe when I hear people talk about their pursuit of pleasure, and about “women opening up to more pleasure in their sexuality” etc. This is because pleasure is by definition fleeting, whereas what brings real happiness is not pleasure but joy. Joy is not about a temporary bodily state like orgasm. It’s a deep sense of satisfaction that comes from inside ourselves that is not dependent on external factors, and from my perspective … as expanded on below … comes from being deeply in touch with our real purpose for being here … which in my world view comes from God.
A Course in Miracles states it this way:
“It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not really punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt must enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain.”
Unraveling that quotation could take us days of study together, so we’ll leave it for everyone to ponder for now …
I won’t repeat all the excellent points Mark makes in the article (you can read his article for that). I do want to expand on one of the points he made because I think he did not go quite far enough. Mark writes:
“Completing a marathon makes us happier than eating a chocolate cake. Raising a child makes us happier than beating a video game. Starting a small business with friends and struggling to make money makes us happier than buying a new computer.”
And it’s not that he’s wrong about this. All of these things are true from my perspective. It just doesn’t go far enough. What all these goals share in common (marathon, having kid, business) in most cases is that they are “personal” goals. Of course having a kid or a business can in some ways help people beyond ourselves. But at least in the United States, and I suspect most of the world over, these goals are all pursued with the idea of serving ourselves. And that is why these goals don’t make us happy. It’s the same reason that special (monogamous) relationships ultimately lead to unhappiness, one way or another. Anything sought to serve the smaller self rather than the world at large will ultimately prove dissatisfying.
In order to be truly fulfilled, we must not only be pursuing goals … we must be actually be fulfilling our PURPOSE. And our purpose extends way beyond ourselves. Our purpose is something we were born to do, something nobody else can do. And I believe it comes from God. In some cultures, they call it our “dharma.”
During my trip to Southeast Asia (which I’m still on now), I experienced the contrast between these two ways of living. At first, I was pursuing mostly personal goals for my business. I felt bored and aimless.
Then, as explained in my prior post about Ditch Your Plans, I got some very powerful guidance that put me on another path entirely. Since then I’ve been to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and now Cambodia all with a deep sense of purpose. My purpose is complete forgiveness. Forgiveness so complete that every shred of fear and resentment is gone.
(Your purpose is also forgiveness, you just may not know it yet. It is everyone’s function, it’s just fulfilled for each of us in a different way.)
Now that I’ve accepted God’s plan instead of my own … life is a whirlwind … I check into hotels and barely unpack my bags as I don’t know where I’ll be sent next on a moment’s notice. Every obstacle has magically moved out of my way. My car, my apartment, my cats, my transportation, my bills that have needed to be paid … everything taken care of for me by the Universe. People magically show up on scooters and take me exactly where I need to go as if they were … well, they were summoned by God. And last night as I was driven in the middle of the night over a crazy pot-holed rode from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap to arrive at my hotel at 2 am and barely get any sleep before starting the day again …
I noticed that I felt happy. Way happier than I would have felt lounging on a beach in Bali (which would have served no real purpose at all). I don’t know when or how I will succeed with the assignment that has been given me, I just know that I will succeed. Because it’s my function. “My happiness and my function are one.”
My strongest bit of advice about fulfilling your purpose is to stop letting fear and other people’s judgments of what you are doing hold you back. Other people don’t know or understand your purpose, necessarily. It comes from God. You can trust God to know … and we can learn to follow our moment-by-moment intuitive guidance all the way to happiness and freedom … holding nothing back.
Right now instead of continuing what I’ve done for years – which is knowing what needed to be done and not doing it … I’m out in the world doing what needs to be done. I can’t tell you how good it feels not to be in denial about this anymore. Not to be wasting my time on aimless pursuits like making money when what I need to do is heal this relationship.
As I wrote in the last article:
I would also say this: What the F*ck, when you’re fulfilling your purpose, also brings happiness.
Erika Awakening, High Priestess of Miracles at TAPsmarter
About the Author:
Erika Awakening is a Harvard Law School graduate and former practicing attorney. She left the rat race to become a location-independent entrepreneur, holistic life coach, blogger, speaker, healer, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) expert. Erika Awakening is one of the world's foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and lifestyle design on your own terms. Learn more about Erika Awakening
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