The Lies of Happiness

Ever wonder why you’re always wanting more?

The Lies of HappinessI’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lies of happiness. I know that’s sounds like such a downer but I’m not depressed or unhappy in any way. Let me explain…

I think society/the world/media/culture tells us that happiness is the ultimate goal. Humans spend their lives striving after it, pursuing some ideal dream, some vague thing that dances just outside of their grasp, only to find out that they can never fill that hole in our heart or satiate that longing.

Some people try medicating with money or power or education or material possessions. Some take the path of humility, striving to serve and give and “be good” in hopes that the elusive happy life they’re seeking will naturally come as a reward. The romantics around us would say that happiness can only be found through love, and so we raise that emotion to the highest pedestal possible and dream about our “happily ever afters.” But here’s the kicker: none of these paths lead to happiness, though the world would not have you believe that.

Many of them lead to comfort which we sometimes confuse with happiness. “I’m in a good, comfortable place in a new relationship so I must be happy.” “I have a brand new tv to play this brand new video game on and it’s going to be awesome!” But how long does comfort really last in these situations? What happens when you’re comfortable in a relationship but you realize you don’t actually like each other all that much? Or what happens when the next version of that tv/video game comes out (because let’s be real, they’re just going to keep remaking things over and over again)? We’re no longer “happy.”

And here’s the thing, most of us do experience moments of intense, pure, true happiness, and when we do, we notice. We get married or have a kid or reach a goal, and we think, “I’m going to hold on to this moment forever” because we recognize the moment for what it is and we know how fleeting real happiness is.

So if we know this truth, that happiness is a fleeting, momentary thing that cannot be bought or bribed or earned, why is it the singular goal of so many of our lives?

And then, most humans hide behind a mask of “happiness” because we see everyone else trying to be happy and we think that this is normal. That if we’re not happy, there’s something wrong with us because we should be happy because everyone else is happy. So we lie to each other instead of being real. We lie to ourselves because we don’t want to believe the truth. We fake how we’re really doing instead of admitting that we might be striving after something impossible. No wonder there’s so much anxiety and depression around us, right?

In a lot of ways, real, true happiness in this world has become more of a lie and a myth than a reality. But if it can’t be found through love or possessions or charity or education or money or the things on this planet, what do we do? Because that’s a miserable and terrifying thought.

Well, first I think we can accept that the things society is shoving down our throats to “fulfill” us are lies. I think we can recognize what we’ve been seeking to complete us isn’t working.

If that’s you right now, if you’re able to acknowledge that truth, my next challenge for you is to google “what the Bible says about joy” with an open mind and open heart.

I know. I just hit you with the Bible. But here’s the thing: God created humanity and we ALL have that same insatiable urge for something greater, the urge that the world tells us is for happiness. But why would a good God create people with this longing desire without the means to fulfill it? He wouldn’t. Or He wouldn’t be good.

But what if I told you that not only did God design a way for humans to experience real happiness, He wanted something more for us than fleeting, momentary emotion we feel from the things of this world? What if He wanted us to experience JOY that never ends? What about lasting contentment and peace and hope?

Good news! That’s exactly what God did and what He wants for us! He designed us with this absolutely infuriating conundrum so that we would seek relationship with Him. All God wants is for us to stop trying (and failing) to do things ourselves and let Him lead us to the life He intended us to have, a life filled with never ending joy instead of fleeting happiness.

Disclaimer: joy and peace and contentment and hope cannot be found in a book, church, or religion. They can only be found in God. So if you’re even the least bit curious, I challenge you to read about how there will come a time when “no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22), how Jesus delighted in dying to save you (yes, YOU) (Hebrews 12:2) or how we can truly enjoy this life we’re given because God is in control (Ecclesiastes 9:7). God wants so much more for your life but you can only truly discover that by getting to know Him.

There’s so much joy and hope to be had in this life. Don’t chase after what you know down deep is fleeting. Don’t give in to the lies of happiness.

Keeping it Together – Adulting for Millennial Freelancers and the ‘Funemployed’

Finding a job is real-life difficult these days. Here’s how I filled my time (and learned a ton) when I was a funemployed freelancer.

Adobe Spark (2)Before I found my amazing job as a QA Coordinator for Trendline Interactive here in Austin, I spent quite a bit of time freelancing as a copy editor and just generally trying to make the most of my unemployment. During that time, I crafted a lot of skills that ended up being hugely beneficial for my super detail-oriented job. Perhaps one of the main things I learned was that a really important piece of freelancing is staying organized and managing your time well, two of my favorite things! While I’m thrilled by the idea of color-coded calendars, checklists, and label makers, I know this is not true of everyone. So for anyone who feels lost in this area, here’s how I attempted to adult as a Funemployed Freelancer.

  • Planners and calendars were (and still are) my best friends. Let me just say, you don’t have to shell out cash for anything fancy; you can keep track of your life with any planner. The key is how you use it. Be as detailed as you can, and write as much down as you can. If physically writing things isn’t your style, Google Calendar is a life saver and it’s a thousand times more awesome (and prettier) than iCalendar. I like to make sure that everything in my planner and calendar is categorized and easy to see by color coding (because I’m Type-A like that) but as long as your entries are there and detailed, (“Lunch with Jessy at Russo’s at noon” is better than “pizza date with sis”) you should be ok. I could write an entire post on the best ways to use planners and calendars but I’ll save that for a later date.
  • Similar to keeping a planner or calendar to keep track of life, I kept a journal specifically for my business/blog. This notebook included freelancing tips, contact information, resources to look into, and blog entry ideas. I kept a thin moleskin in my purse and write down any resources as I came across them and keep track of the things I’d accomplished as well as the things I wanted to achieve. It also allowed me to plan out every blog post. I gave each post a page where I wrote the subject, the day and date of posting, and bullet points, thoughts, ideas, or research on the topic. This helped me keep track of what I’d already written about and allowed me the freedom to write ahead in my spare time for instances where I was out of town or had other things going on. A digital way of doing this is Evernote, where you can have multiple notebooks with different ideas, images, documents or whatever you might need. You can also share notes with other users which can be especially helpful for collaborative work.
  • Just like planners, I’m also a huge fan of routine. Keeping a general structure and schedule for my day allowed me to stay on top of all the things I wanted to get done and protected me from staying in bed watching Netflix all day. For a lot of freelancers, however, routine is the exact opposite of what they want for their day-to-day. My suggestion is to make sure you’re working at your most effective time of day. For me, I write and think best from about 9am to 2pm and anything outside of that window is a lot more of a struggle. If you’re an afternoon person, make sure to allow yourself time to work in the afternoon; if you’re a night person, do work then. Whenever you can create the highest quality work, schedule around that.
  • The last thing I’ll share is that I’m most productive when I can alternate tasks and take short breaks. Doing this keeps boredom and frustration at bay while also getting things done. Not sure how to fix that really strange sentence? Move on to writing that blog post you’ve been meaning to get to. Got writer’s block? Go clean the bathroom before your roommates strangle you with the nasty hair clogging the drain. You can always come back to everything later. Don’t forget to take short breaks in the process, also. Take the dog for a walk, go for a run, listen to some awesome music, call your mom, or let yourself open YouTube for a bit. Just don’t let it derail you. You’re working from home – take advantage of that!

Setting your own schedule can be a blessing and a curse but with a few simple tricks, staying organized and managing your time well can become easy-peas. Do you have any tips for staying productive at home? Do you think these tips can be just as helpful in your standard 9-5? Any suggestions for what NOT to do? Please let me know in the comments below!