What kind of person are you? Do you go with the flow or tactfully plan your each and every move? Do you believe there is a plan for you and that everything happens for a reason? Or do you take the more controlled route and strategize, setting goals to make sure things happen as you wish?
Which method leads to greater happiness, blind faith or goal-setting?
The answer is not as clear as you’d think.
From the time I was in fourth grade I took the route of goal-setting as a solution to increase my happiness. I put myself on an extensive path to follow the system they way “we are supposed to”. Meaning working as hard as possible, while doing everything right in order to accomplish my goal of graduating from college. I knew the journey would be tough so I made sure this was my number one objective in life, well nearly my only objective in life…
During this process I did homework during my elementary recesses, I skipped social gatherings with friends fearing peer-pressure to do things “I
shouldn’t do”, and I put family on the back burner and school front and center. BY GOLLY, I decided I will be happy and there was nothing that was going to stop me!
Do you see where I am headed with this? Happiness was always something projected to be dropped on my head at some point in the future. Well when I reached that future destination I was in disbelief as I realized my happiness levels hadn’t changed at ALL! Why could this be I wondered? And I pondered for four weeks which brings me to today.
In the process of becoming so completely focused on becoming happy, I skipped out on many opportunities to enjoy life in the moment. I am not saying by any means that I am not grateful with where I am today, as I know I am well set-up to get a job and live blissfully. What I am saying is that I have realized that goal-setting to the extreme is potentially counter-productive.
During my pursuits of accomplishing a goal destined to bring me happiness in the future I shook my head in disbelief at those who were accomplishing happiness in the moment. People in college who went out and partied three times a week and kids who put off studying to drive home for a few days. What were these people thinking? How were they ever going to be happy if they didn’t put 110% into reaching their goals?
How could they just go and be careless without fear of dire consequences?
Could the answer be that they had faith?
I don’t mean faith in the religious sense but faith in the sense that they believed and had confidence that things would work out. Faith that every little step and every little move did not have to have an outlined plan. Faith that it is okay to go and have some harmless fun because things will still work out.
Happiness is Complex
Sure, to be happy we must absolutely know what we need to achieve it and fight to get it through goal-setting. But goal-setting is extremely stressful. It can also narrow your focus so much that you miss many of the little happy moments that surround you in the periphery. Goal-setting casts contentment as something that can only be obtained in the future. Hence you never experience it until you reach the end and even then it may not be as satisfying as you had expected.
Faith on the other hand allows you to be free to have fun and enjoy things in the moment. It reduces anxiety as a person can trust that things will work themselves out eventually. However when one relies only on faith they may lead a life that they had no influence over creating.
Perhaps a little serving of both in moderation would make the best dish?
The answer is not black and white, unfortunately most things in life do not have a simple solution or answer.
That’s why I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
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