Happiness is not an object. But most people spend their lives trying to buy happiness.
Take a long look at yourself–you probably spend the majority of your day seeking happiness as something outside of your present experience.
Looking forward to the weekend is seeking happiness in the future–reinforcing the concept that, for the current moment, you are stuck in unhappiness.
Brainstorming the next way for your business to increase profitability is seeking happiness. This time your taste of joy might come from the admiration of others who see the value of your company.
Or your paycheck. Or the sense of pride that comes with manifesting your vision. Or the creative playfulness you enjoy mentalizing with coworkers. Or a million other spikes in temporary and fleeing wellbeing.
You even seek happiness through simple things: relationships, food, and sex. Or even through activities that appear to be in your best interest like reading or exercise.
Exercising releases hormones that make you feel good. And maybe you like the way others treat you when you’re in shape. Or maybe you like the way you look and feel when you’re fit. Each of those too is a bump of momentary satisfaction.
When reading a book, your world is temporarily transformed. You have a moment of escape from your daily reality. That’s a small taste of happiness that lasts as long as it takes to read the pages covered in ink.
If you’re willing to be honest with yourself, you’ll recognize that your entire life is built on seeking. Everything that you do has the underlying aim of increasing your happiness–even if it only lasts for one brief moment.
This seeking of happiness that is your life pursuit is built on ego. Not the Freudian ego structure, but the larger definition that includes your personality and sense of identity. And this trait, or mechanism, is the one thing that prevents real happiness from being experienced.
As a life coach and licensed therapist, one of the deepest parts of my work with clients is helping them identify and observe the mechanism that prevents their unhappiness: their ego.
Through writing my doctoral dissertation, which focuses almost exclusively on this very topic, I’ve learned that all ego-based seeking for happiness is the act of unhappiness.
This wisdom–that the ego creates unhappiness–is ancient. Many yogis, sages, and gurus have spent their lives teaching ways to overcome and transcend the ego to attain unwavering happiness in the here-and-now.
These knowledgeable individuals reinforce that happiness is not an object, but a state of being. And that state of being exists everywhere at all times–it is only the ego that separates from it and then plays a game of hide and go seek to find it once again.
How is this applicable to entrepreneurship? You might ask. And you might, once again, be seeking to commodify and reduce these concepts into something that you can use to achieve the result of illusory happiness.
You as the ego reading this cannot escape this simple fact: everything you do is seeking.
A guru named Adi Da Samraj once said, “All seeking is the pursuit of union with something you are actively separating yourself from.”
And that seeking is motivated by ego. And that ego is the separation between yourself and happiness, which is why you are constantly unhappy and seeking.
This paradoxical play is a never-ending game for the majority of the population. Most spend their lives chasing happiness and evading responsibility for making better decisions. But if you’re one of the few who understand that you are seeking, you have a choice.
You can either keep playing your ego games or you can dive deeper into this world–the real world in which you are embedded.
You can continue lying to yourself. Saying that these temporary and fleeting pleasures are satisfying. That you’ll feel satisfied after attaining some goal. And that you’ll get serious about life later, after you’ve achieved your success.
But the truth is, the only time for change is now. That’s all there ever has been. And that’s all there ever will be.
The only way for entrepreneurs to discover real happiness and not merely temporary relief from suffering, is to address the root of their unhappiness.
To reflect and be honest with themselves. To acknowledge the ways in which they mask suffering through chasing success and receiving recognition for their achievements. To engage in real self-development practices and invest their hearts in living more fulfilling lives.
Otherwise, the ongoing marathon of consumption, seeking, and mediocrity continues. And you’re left with only games, consolation prizes, and participation trophies to represent the impression of happiness that you could only imagine, but never taste.
Challenge yourself not to accept winning at the game of ego and losing at the deeper game of life. Aim for both. You can play the game without being exploited by it.
Notice your ego-based habits. Recognize that everything you do is motivated by seeking. And start moving beyond this pattern.
That’s the only way to experience the real happiness that is pure, real, and always already present in your life.