We spend all our lives trying to find ways to be happy. But have you ever sat down and thought about what happiness really is and where it comes from?
There are three levels of happiness. Most people spend a lifetime chasing the first two levels of happiness and completely miss the third level – the one that lasts a life time.
The three levels of happiness:
1. Pleasure – This is the lowest level of happiness because it has the shortest life span. And even though pleasure is the most temporary form of happiness, it is the one that we spend much of our lives focusing on. We go to movies to be entertained for two hours. We have a glass of wine or two because it makes us happy for a few hours. We attend a concert to experience the high of listening to live music for a few hours. We go to a night club because it’s a fun night with friends. In fact, most of our youth is spent equating pleasure with happiness, until we experience the emptiness found in a life pursuing pleasure.
2. Passion – This second level of happiness usually lasts much longer than simple pleasure. People are passionate about all sorts of things. Some are passionate about playing music, while others are passionate about exercising. Many people are happy in the kitchen cooking because that’s their passion. Others show their passion playing sports or rooting for their favorite team. Passions can bring continuing joy, but it still doesn’t even come close to the highest level of happiness.
3. Purpose – This is the most important level of happiness because it lasts a lifetime. Many people experience the purpose-driven happiness of becoming a parent. Raising kids is a lifelong purpose that brings fulfillment till the very end. Now imagine having that same feeling about your work or career. Too many people have a job because at the end of the month bills need to be paid. But I think we’d all admit that’s a reason, not a purpose. Once you find a purpose in what you do on a daily basis, there’s a certain high that you experience that no pleasure or passion can even get close to.
I’ve been passionate about working out since I was fourteen years old. I’ve experienced some intense work outs that words can’t describe, but they don’t compare to the happiness that I’ve experienced from being part of a bigger purpose than just a passion. Relatively few people experience the happiness that comes from a pursuing a purpose in life beyond parenting, but if you do, you uncover a side of yourself you’ve never seen before. You start asking yourself, “Where has this side of me been all of my life?” Level three will put a spark in your life like never before. My challenge to you is to fight to be part of a cause or a purpose bigger than just another opportunity or career. It certainly takes some guts, but long term you’ll be glad you did because of the lasting happiness it will bring.