"... We Are Happy When We
William Butler Yeats
I love this quote by Yeats because it acknowledges an essential element to what makes us happy -- growth. In our youth we take great pride in the milestones that signify growth: graduation from kindergarten, loss of a first tooth, acceptance to college, etc... However, it isn't until we transition from aiming for pre-determined milestones based on societal norms to self-determined goals based on who we are as individuals that we experience what it takes to be a happy adult.
I have always asserted that contentment is just a breather we take between challenges. As human beings, we have at our disposal infinite possiblities for growth. It's exciting to think about the myriad of ways we can advance, learn, study, overcome, create and challenge ourselves during the course of our lives. When we are in pursuit of our goals, whether it be career advancement, deeper relationships or more effective parenting, we are growing, feeling purposeful and, therefore, having a greater capacity for happiness.
On the road to goal achievement we will surely experience disappointments (which are no fun at all), but that is a small price to pay for the joy we feel inside when we solve a problem or overcome an obstacle. As Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and the inspiration behind this article, says , "To feel happy, it's not enough to have fun with your friends, ... and feel like you're working in the right job; you also need to feel growth-a sense of learning, of betterment, of advancement, of contributing to the growth of others."