Friday, December 6, 2013

Do What Makes You Happy!


That seems to be a common theme these days. I am sure if you ask teenagers if that is a good strategy many of them would wholeheartedly agree because feeling good and having fun is often viewed as a high priority. I am sure that I am not the first person to say this but it bears repeating: Isn’t focusing on trying to “Do what makes you happy” misleading advice? When you really break things down, isn’t part of emotional maturity learning not to always do what makes you happy?

When you’re at the ice cream parlor picking a flavor then it makes sense to “do what makes you happy” unless of course you are on a diet and even then you may have to think twice about it. As soon as any responsibility is involved often the option to “do what makes you happy” has to go on the backburner. In my own life, just the other day, one of my kids threw up all over the bed in the middle of the night. It surely didn’t “make me happy” to get up out of my warm and comfortable bed to clean up vomit and help him get back to sleep. I wasn’t happy about it when I had to get up early the next morning either as much as I love the kid. Nevertheless, days later I can look back on it with a different kind of happiness just by knowing that I was there for him when he needed me, as dreadful as being called upon for midnight puke cleaning can be at the time.

The same holds true for relationships, family, employment, education, exercise, addiction-recovery and any other life areas or personal goals that require some kind of commitment or dedication. To “do what makes you happy” in life at times can easily involve thoughts of running from responsibilities to pursue an option that is more fun and enjoyable at the moment. For example, I both value and enjoy my job, but if I woke up every morning and chose to “do what makes me happy” I would have been fired years ago for staying home for weeks at a time to do other fun stuff until the money runs out.  

Like I said before, I am not the first or the last person to make this realization but it is a good reminder to reframe the often unrealistic “Do what makes you happy” viewpoint. Often it makes a lot more sense to search for and find happiness in making do with what you have and then do what is necessary each day, regardless of how fun and enjoyable that may be at the time. Real happiness comes with the rewards of doing what is right and sticking with it over time.

> make do - to manage to get along with the means available (The Free Dictionary) 

When you can’t do what makes you happy…Then learn to be happy just to make do….


  1. Excellent post! I LOVED this actually because it really opened my eyes to the real meaning behind 'do what makes you happy.' I've never really thought about that term much until I read this post. You were spot on. Great work!

  2. A person can apply the "do what makes you happy" to the things we have to do that aren't so much fun (like a job or cleaning up vomit in the middle of the night) by doing those things but forcing our thoughts to a happy place while we do them. If your job is not the most fun place, you have to work to shift your thoughts to the things that are working in your life, that make you happy. It is so easy to wallow in what isn't working, but if we train ourselves, we can learn to go to the "happy place" more easily and more readily and it totally shifts our energy when we have to do those things that aren't so much fun.