The Happiness Mirage: The Right Way & Wrong Way to Be Happy

Dear E & V,

One of the most difficult times in my life was when I was struggling with my identity and career path during my early to mid twenties.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, or what made me “me”. But I knew I wanted to be happy, so what did I do?

I chased pleasure.

I drank too much alcohol. I smoked a lot of weed. I chose jobs based on how easy they were or how much money they paid. My hobbies consisted of video games, movies, and partying with my friends.

Yet despite swimming in pleasure, deep down I was still unhappy. I was unhappy with myself so I felt the need to fill that hole that unhappiness with pleasure.

That reminds me of a fitting Viktor Frankl (Holocaust survivor and psychologist; I would highly recommend his books) quote:

“When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.”

That is true. It is 100% true.

Society has come to a point where pleasure has become much much easier to obtain than meaning. Pleasure is profitable, so businesses will focus on that at the expense of all else, even your well-being. And it doesn’t help that finding meaning in your life can be hard work.

I can’t tell you what is meaningful for you, that is a journey you have to undertake yourself — and it is a part of making a beautiful life.

However here are a three things that I’ve learned that have helped me create meaning in my own life:

  1. Meaning often comes from helping others: This one is self-explanatory. Even outside my own experience, those professions that claim to have the most meaning are those that help other people (doctors, first responders, etc).
  2. Meaning often comes from creating something other people appreciate: One of the greatest feelings for me is when I create an experimental food dish and you and your mother like it. It could also be something like creating a work of art, starting a business, or inventing a needed product. Use your imagination!
  3. Meaning often comes from making yourself a better person: I’ve found that when I stop focusing on pleasure or on pleasing others and start working on myself — my fitness, my health, my mental well-being, my life skills, my relationships — the meaning in my life just falls into place.

I don’t regret much in my life because it made me who I am today. But I do regret spending so much time seeking pleasure instead of working on making myself a better person.

The interesting thing was, when I stopped looking for happiness — when I started working on myself and started to work on making a beautiful life instead — happiness found me.

I still struggle with being content in life, especially when it comes to how I earn our income (quick tip: Never ever ever work for a corporation, more on that in a future post). But now I don’t waste my time seeking happiness or destroy myself with excessive pleasure…


So thank you for being such a wonderful part of my life.




Ken View All →

I am a Father, Husband, Cowboy Philosopher, Volunteer Firefighter, and Professional Dilettante. I am nothing and I am everything. But when it comes to our relationship: I only wish you wonder and happiness.

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