Can we face Life’s challenges by striving for happiness?

Last week I came across this article from the News Daily:

Finding happiness comes down to three key things.

The article uses data from the report What Makes Us Happy to conclude that well being comes down to a golden triangle of happiness made up of three core elements, namely financial control, supportive relationships and a sense of purpose.

While these elements are certainly important to well being…the question I ask myself after reading this article is: should we really strive for happiness? Isn’t striving for happiness unrealistic and unedifying?

I believe that Life is a journey that includes both ups and downs. Don’t we all experience worries, stress, grief, relationship issues, conflict, decision making dilemmas, lack of confidence, failure, vulnerability, anger, fear, shame, guilt (and the list goes on)…at some point in our lives? And if we strive for happiness…what does it mean when we fail to achieve it?

For some this may mean finding adaptive ways to cope by re-examining what’s important, readjusting expectations and setting achievable goals. However, for others, managing Life’s challenges may lead to avoiding the unpleasant thoughts or feelings that are experienced and making choices that are maladaptive.

So what can we do when we face Life’s challenges?

Ultimately, as Viktor Frankl (Neurologist, Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor) put it “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” To me this means acknowledging that we all face difficulties in life and it’s not necessarily what we face but how we face it.

Recently Alexandra Frost (of Attuned Psychology) wrote a follow up article titled Mental Health begins with me and you: A Psychologist’s reflection on her own Mental Health day promises.

What I really loved about this blog was that it acknowledged the vulnerabilities and challenges that we all face…and that being a psychologist or therapist does not make you immune to the ups and downs that Life has to offer. It was Carl Jung…who made the comment “Oh, so you’re in the soup too!” when meeting a client for the first time…the client appreciated having a fellow traveller as a therapist…someone who could acknowledge, understand and share vulnerability.

So if you’re struggling with the ups and downs of Life or are struggling with your well being and want some help, at Attuned there are psychologists and therapists that are available to be fellow travellers.

John Pertl

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