Happiness can be elusive. Sometimes it seems the more it’s pursued the harder it is to find. This is especially true for enduring happiness, which is quite different from celebratory happiness, like you might experience at a party. I believe the most fulfilling form of happiness cannot be “found” per se. Enduring happiness needs to be developed. It is the product of a healthy and gratifying relationships and purposeful work.
Research and observations by Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson and senior research fellow Laura Nash, authors of “Four Keys of Enduring Success: How High Achievers Win” found that enduring personal satisfaction comes more from the act of achieving than from the actual accomplishment. This point is significant in a world that measures our success by our accomplishments. It is the endeavor itself that creates feelings of gratification. This is one of the great personal benefits of embracing and pursuing a meaningful purpose.
Do you remember a time when your idealism was at its peak? When you were passionate about pursuing noble goals and principles? Or believed far more was possible than you do now in creating a greater good? I remember times like those in my life. I became involved in several causes du jour. I learned, grew, and became more aware of what I truly believed in. Then reality struck. I discovered it was harder than I thought. Then my life changed. I worked long hours, had a family to support, and valued time with my wife and son.
Through all of this, my idealism remained in my mind, if tempered by greater life experience. My passions and interests matured. They became more focused. Soon I found ways to pursue them in bite size pieces that worked with the other priorities in my life. I began once again to give my idealism wings.
I realize now that my journey to a meaningful personal purpose (which has changed and evolved over time) involved four key steps. In interviewing others who followed their own routes, I learned their journeys followed a similar path.