Happiness is not a subject near and dear to my heart. It's not that I'm against happiness, I tend to be a very happy guy. But happiness is not something I pursue. Anyone who consistently reads my writing know that I believe happiness is a positive effect of pursuing individual greatness, but not the goal in itself.
However, though I don’t focus on happiness many people think I’m the ultimately happy guy who never looks at the dark side of life. Last week I was talking with a friend and she was opining that “on the journey of life you have to experience both the peaks and the valleys.” I agreed, but countered that “just because I experience the valleys on the journey of life doesn’t mean I have to stop and build my house there.”
This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a positive psychology summit at the University of Pennsylvania. It was attended by some of the smartest and most accomplished people I know. Dr. Ed Deiner spoke about happiness and revealed some studies that if you are super happy, you might not achieve as much as someone else who might be moderately happy. (Of course if you are depressed you might not accomplish much either.) Afterword I tried to pursue the point, but he deftly dodged it. However, his point was made. Some of the most prominent people in history struggled with their dark side and used it as a spring-board to creativity and success. It’s important to note that most of them didn’t wallow in their dark side, but acknowledged it and used it.
In the journey of life all of us experience peaks and valleys. However by living in the valleys we close ourselves off from the good side of life. Yes, it is important to experience the highs and lows, but since we all have a choice, why not build our homes on the highs? We can do that by enjoying the peak moments more, exploring them and learning how we can repeat them and treasuring them each time they occur. Then, with confidence we can experience and even explore the valleys, but in time move out and back up to the peaks. So the question remains, where do you want to build your house?