“I do what I FEEL like doing, but I can’t seem to find happiness!”

It is starting to look like someone is playing a cruel practical joke on your efforts to find happiness. You try to use common sense… “If I do what I feel like doing, I will become happy.” “If I don’t do what I don’t feel like doing, I will become happy.”

So you wake up in the morning and you ask yourself, “What do I feel like doing today?” You notice that you don’t feel like going to school. So you start looking for ways to get out of it. This starts to cause contention with your parents. They become frustrated with you and you become frustrated with them. You are determined to be happy today, and your feelings say that you don’t feel like going to school, and you will not let your parents take your happiness away from you. So you stop fighting and when you get to school, you just find ways to avoid your classes. You find some others who would be happier if they didn’t have to go to school and you ask each other, “What do you feel like doing?” Nobody says, “I feel like going to class right now.” So, someone throws out an idea like sluffing class and going for a donut run. This sparks a little chemical of thrill, so every decides that would make them happy.

And/Or…. After school/work you remember that your mom/wife usually has some things for you to do in order to help around the house. You ask yourself the key question, “Do I FEEL like being helpful?” You observe within seconds that you don’t feel like being helpful, and that being helpful will not make you happy. So you find the tool in your tool box that helps you get out of it. Some use avoidance; hide from the chore giver. Others use the look or the tone that says, “Back off!” Some of you have successfully trained your parent/spouse. They don’t even ask any more. You have a happy (?), cold understanding. “I don’t ask you to do anything for me; you don’t ask anything of me. Got it! Okay now, what’s for dinner and are my clothes clean for tomorrow?” 

I could go on and on about different examples; Don’t do homework, housework, ect. Do video games, television, friends, etc. You get the idea. At the end of the day, your brain does what it is supposed to do and assesses the day. You observe that you are less happy than you were when the day started. You review and observe that you only did what you felt like doing and you avoided things you didn’t feel like doing. Should work, right!?!?!

One of the best and worst days of my life was when I discovered that happiness is like the fruit of a tree. In other words, my happiness harvest today is based more on what I did 3 months ago than it is based on what I do today. But what I do today will determine how much happiness I yield in 3 months. I call this, “Farmer Mentality”.

Ironically, happiness actually does not come from doing what you feel like doing. Happiness is a sensation you feel when you NOTICE that your life has meaning and direction. True happiness actually takes at least 3 months to grow (like a garden!  ). The correct question to ask yourself today is, “What do I NEED to do today that will give my life meaning and direction?” Do not ask whether or not you FEEL like doing it. We all know the answer…none us FEEL like doing things that need to be done.

If you follow through with this idea – of doing what needs to be done today in order to give your life meaning and direction – you will need to avoid self checking about your happiness for almost 3 months. That is about how long it takes to grow solid happiness. If you are lucky, you might NOTICE in less than 3 months that your life is starting to get meaning and direction.

Imagine putting a seed into the microwave, having it cook for one minute, then living off the results. You might get something tasty for a few seconds (if the seed was popcorn!), but otherwise it won’t feed you. Following the philosophy of, “I do what I feel like doing and I avoid what I don’t feel like doing” is called “Microwave Mentality”. You will be starved from happiness for a very long time if you don’t learn to cultivate happiness like a farmer. Sorry, welcome to earth. 

(As usual, I tried to cram a lot in a small article. Let me know if you want me to clarify anything. mwharkertherapy@gmail.com)

About Maurice W. Harker, LPC

Director of Life Changing Services, Director of Sons of Helaman, Facilitator of the WORTH group, Consultant for the Daughters of Light program.