Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure from this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing. ~ W.B. YeatsModern researchers make a similar argument: 'it isn't goal attainment but the process of striving after goals - that is, growth- that brings happiness.'
Growth can take many forms...from traveling, to spirituality or learning a new language, instrument, or new recipes. But, it must be present in our lives in some way for us to be truly happy. For me, growth takes form each time I begin training for a new marathon. It's not the day of the race, as I mentioned before, but everything leading up to it, and having that goal to work toward in my daily life that brings me reward and satisfaction. Not to mention the daily serotonin-induced mood boost (which I have to say learning a new language or instrument does not provide)..but that's for a future blog entry!
Growth, in whatever form it takes, is one of the keys to happiness. And it's something that material items don't provide us with. We've all heard 'money doesn't buy happiness!' But, why? Don't get me wrong, I've been there: thrilled over an amazing pair of super-cute ballet flats complete with a 'cluster of spiky studs' on the toe (sooo cute - check them out here), or a super-feminine lace blouse by Free People...and, that was just in the last week! But, I don't confuse it with any sort of lasting or real happiness. Material items cannot make us happy because humans are adaptable and we:
"quickly adjust to a new life circumstance--for better or worse--and consider it normal. Although this helps us when our situation worsens, it means that when circumstances improve, we soon become hardened to new comforts of privileges. This 'hedonistic treadmill,' as it's called, makes it easy to grow accostomed to some of the things that make you feel good such as a new car, new job title, or air conditioning, so that the good feeling wears off. But, creating an atmosphere of growth offsets that. You may soon take your new dining room table for granted, but tending your garden will give you fresh joy and surprise every week." (from The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin)If we don't have growth in some form; if we don't have something more that we are working toward in our lives, we aren't going to be happy. And, we may not even realize why. So, signing up for a 10K, a 1/2 marathon or a marathon really can make you happy, and that's why! It lasts much longer than cute shoes. I mean, I will only be happy every single day that I have those ballet flats on..and we all know I can't wear them every day! I need to put on my running shoes!!!