U2 released a song called “I still haven’t found what I am looking for” you may remember it. It was what one might call a “middle of the road” song. It was neither ground breaking nor was it a bad composition musically.
It’s a song that has popped into my head over the last week. In fact it pops in and out of my head periodically. Well maybe not the song itself but just that one sentence.
Maybe this middle of the road song is coming to me as I am in the middle of the road of my life! You see over the past few years I have been exploring the whole area of “finding what I am looking for.” On the surface I have a great life, a great wife, an ok job, I live in a beautiful place, I get to go out and eat a few times a month, have managed to take a holiday for the last 4 years or so, but you know I feel there is something lacking.
I talked to a number of people about this and it seems I am not the only one who has realised this. I believe that many people feel this void but don’t quite understand what is causing it. So what do they do?
The try to fill that void with “something.”
That something can be alcohol – I saw a flyer for a bar that said enjoy 3 hours of happiness with our half price drinks!
Others will fill that void with food (chocolate anyone?)
Others will take drugs to help fill the void.
I have tried all of the above (bar the drugs) and you know what they all make you happy. I remember that feeling of having a drink and feeling a bit more relaxed after 2 or 3, it was an amazing and a fun feeling. However, one thing that happened was I wanted more happiness. So I tried harder… well you know how that ends! – With a hangover and feeling bad
Food, oh boy, still do that a bit, but try to keep myself in check. Nothing beats a bar of chocolate (yes it contains chemicals that make you feel better) but you get a buzz and then you feel bad and sometimes disgusted.
What about retail therapy to help you feel better. Yeah brings happiness to have a new “thing” be it gadgets, shoes or clothes. But then what happens? The happiness fades away and is replaced by an OMG now I have to pay this back.
Normally we get our high of happiness and then we come down. We feel the same as we did before or perhaps a little bit less happy than we were before. So we try to find the happiness again, this time we try harder. We drink more, eat more, buy more however the happiness feeling we get is not as strong as we thought.
Why does this happen?
I believe it is the law of diminishing returns – wow my economics degree is useful for something! Ok so what does this law mean and how is it relevant.
First let’s define it:
“The law of diminishing returns states that as one input variable is increased, there is a point at which the marginal increase in output begins to decrease, holding all other inputs constant.”
In other words we reach a point where the more we increase the input (insert vice here) the marginal increase in output begins to decrease (the happiness feeling)
I can testify to this, and for some reason even though this happens I continued to increase the input, until it go to a point that I had to stop.
Where do you find happiness now?
You finally realize that happiness can not be derived from things. Now if you remove the vices you suddenly feel that empty feeling more and more. Why? Because you were able to cover up that feeling with temporary happiness. (Remember 3 hours of happiness above?)
Rather than finding happiness in food or alcohol or in shopping (which can kick start those happiness feelings in moments) you now have to search deeper.
I truly believe that this is a fantastic point to be at.
Why? Because now you are looking deeper into yourself and asking the big question “What will make me happy?”
Instead of finding instant happiness you have have to now look for it and see what exactly what it is you want.
What’s the next step?
I truly think you have to ask yourself the following questions:
- Who am I?
- Where am I?
- Who do I want to be?
- Where do I want to be?
I go into detail about these question in my Udemy course – Plan Your Success.
You see I truly believe that once you have discovered that vices don’t bring happiness, you suddenly find that it is more difficult to find happiness as it is a more long term discovery.
And let me be honest with you I am still on this journey of discovery, but now I am aware and this is the key. Becoming aware helps you take action, or be open to taking action.
I will continue with this theme in an upcoming post