“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” —Mandy Hale
There are two pursuits common to humanity: the pursuit of self and the pursuit of happiness.
The pursuit of self comes quite natural for us. We don’t need to be reminded to pursue our own self-interests. It seems we are hard-wired for it. We pursue self-survival, self-promotion, self-actualization, and self-exaltation.
Similarly, the pursuit of happiness is not foreign to our thinking. In fact, it has become an entire industry all to itself. Books, websites, conferences, scientific studies, blog posts… you can find them all.
Now, just to be clear, I am not against the pursuit of self-interests and I am not against the pursuit of happiness.
There is value in self-pursuit—survival at the very least. And the pursuit of happiness is not an unhealthy pursuit. It can even be found in the founding documents of our nation.
But we make a mistake when we combine and confuse the two.
When we try to satisfy our pursuit of happiness in the pursuit of self, we always fall short of the truest, most-lasting forms of happiness.
The pursuit of self and the pursuit of happiness are not the same. In fact, at times, they run completely opposite routes.
The best efficient pathway to lasting happiness and fulfillment is not to look only at your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
When we begin living our lives for the sake of others, our lives immediately take on greater value. We no longer live for the benefit of one. We begin living for the benefit of more than one.
When we shift our focus off of ourselves, we live lives of greater meaning and greater contribution. When we serve others without concern over what we might receive in return, we experience the beauty of selfless love.
And when we direct our resources of time and money toward others, we begin to discover pursuits more valuable than material possessions.
This is an important change in our worldview. Not just because the potential for contribution increases, but because our personal experience of happiness begins to grow.
Routinely asking the question, “How does this action benefit someone else?” can serve as an important catalyst to change our view on almost everything we do. It immediately invites a new level of happiness into our lives.
Labor takes on new meaning when it is not seen through a self-serving lens. Rather than worrying exclusively about accolades and paychecks, we begin to see our work as a benefit to society. Most work, viewed correctly, improves the lives of others. Remembering how our labor benefits others is one of the best ways to find more fulfillment in it.
Our daily chores and errands begin to take on new meaning when viewed through the contribution we are providing for our family. When my concern is solely on me and my self-interests, housework is met with frustration and feelings of unfairness. But when I start to consider how my work around the home benefits my family, even mundane tasks can be seen as an opportunity to show love.
Even in my pursuit of personal development, I can recognize how these changes will benefit others. For example, choosing to exercise or eat well lays the foundation for a healthier, physical body. Even our decision to rest prepares our minds for more productivity or creativity to benefit others.
Let’s pursue self. And let’s pursue happiness. But let’s be increasingly mindful of our society’s tendency to equate the two. (tweet that)