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Happiness is bad for you

We are suckers for happiness.

Happiness. The holy grail.

From the moment we are born, the message we get is that we need to search for happiness, as once we find it, our life will be just perfect.

It is such a powerful message that happiness has become a powerful selling and marketing tool. Therefore, the stories created must have a happily ever after ending.

Have you ever seen a Hollywood movie that ends in a tragedy?

It is unheard of! (Well, maybe there are one or two like that, but I am yet to find them)

And even worse are Disney’s productions. It is all about ending with rainbows and unicorns.

Consequently, we are brainwashed from birth to expect happiness. And so, we go on our journey in search of happiness. (The pursuit of happiness is even part of the USA constitution)

But what happens when we struggle to find this elusive thing?

We get disappointed. We are upset. We are frustrated. We think our life is not up to what they should be. And we get jealous of other people that hold a happiness façade.

What if I tell you now that happiness shouldn’t be your goal? What if I tell you that you are better off not being satisfied with everything in your life?

Are you feeling relieved now? If you are not convinced yet (which you shouldn’t be. You need to question what I am saying. Don’t just accept it), I will explain my position.

The happiness traps

First, we must look at the illusions projected at us:

  1. Happiness is your holy grail. Happiness should be your goal since once you are happy, you reach nirvana. All will be great, and you will never have to experience these horrible negative emotions.

  2. Be happy with what you have. This one was created because of our nature. We want more. We can never get satisfaction. And the more we have, the more we want. (Look at our materialistic culture. We are like hungry monsters that can never get enough) And so, due to our nature, we are told to look at the glass half full to be happy. We need to appreciate what we have and settle for that.

I am pretty sure you are familiar with these two tactics.

After all, it is pumped into our brains almost all the time. Whether or not you are aware of it, these messages flow to you from all around you.

And so, we fall into the trap.

We start searching for it. We crave it. We pretend we have it. And then we get jealous of others doing the same and putting on a facade of happiness.

Social media is designed around it. And many more organisations are making billions by selling us this dream.

Dissatisfaction is the right way

But what if dissatisfaction works in our favour?

Imagine you are happy with what you have. Happy with who you are, what you do, and your lifestyle. It is all perfect!

Would you want to change anything? You already reached the holy grail, so would you like to risk losing it?

Think about what triggers your desire to learn and grow. If you are satisfied with your life and genuinely content with where you are, there is probably no point in spending time, energy and money on improving yourself.

When you are content, you won’t be aiming for new heights and therefore miss on so many new opportunities to grow personally and professionally.

Let’s see what can happen when people are unhappy with the status quo, are dissatisfied with their lives, and choose to do something about it.

Gordon Sumner taught English, music, and soccer at St. Catherine's Convent School. Luckily for us, he wasn’t happy with what he had, so he left his teaching job and rose to fame as Sting from The Police.

Ronald Reagan was an actor in major productions and had a successful career within the entertainment industry. However, he wasn’t satisfied with his life, and in his 50s, he turned to politics and became USA's 40th president.

Ronald Reagan is not the only one who wasn’t content with a successful career in Hollywood and decided to venture into politics. After many years of staring in blockbuster movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger followed the same path and became the 38th governor of California.

These are only a few examples of what the driving force of wanting more and not feeling satisfied with what you have can do to you personally and professionally.

Now think about what drives innovation. What the motivation to create advancement in technology is. Most of the time, it stems from dissatisfaction with the status quo. It is about wanting something better.

Garrett Camp wasn’t happy with the way Taxi services operated. Therefore, from this dissatisfaction, he created Uber.

Reed Hastings wasn’t happy with the fine he had to pay for Blockbuster, as he was late returning “Apollo 13” DVD. So, he founded Netflix.

Channel your dissatisfaction to innovate

Dissatisfaction with the status quo promotes innovation as it is doing two things:

  1. Dissatisfaction pushes you to find different ways to do things. It drives you to think creatively about new ways you can solve problems.

  2. Dissatisfaction with the status quo motivates you to keep going until you find a new solution. It is not easy to break free from the status quo and create something new. There are many challenges and resistance when moving away from the familiar. You need to work very hard to make it happen. Therefore, to successfully implement new ideas, you must be motivated to do so.

Satisfaction can lead to complacency, which is the enemy of creative thinking and innovation.

For that reason, the next time you feel dissatisfied with the way things are, embrace this feeling. Don’t feel bad about it. Don’t feel guilty for not being content with what you have.

Don’t tell yourself you should be happy, that these are first-world problems and there are hungry children in Africa.

Instead, harness this feeling as a motivation to think creatively and find a better way.

If you want to embark on your creative journey and become happy with your dissatisfaction, I have a couple of books that take you on this journey.

If you are an educator – my book “Think Unique – your comprehensive guide to cultivating tomorrow’s innovators through Project-Based Learning” will empower you to develop your creative thinking and have the confidence you need to tackle any problem. It will also empower you to turn your classroom into an innovative learning environment, where your students develop their creative thinking, problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, resilience and more crucial life skills.

If you are a parent – my book “Think Unique – Raising a successful, innovative child”, will empower you as a parent. This book will take you on your own creative journey so you can model a mindset for success and the crucial skills required to thrive today and in the future. Then, you will be able to help your child develop these skills and become super creative and excellent problem solver.

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