Did you know that 40 million adults struggle with anxiety in the US?
It’s a staggering statistic, but for some reason I don’t feel very surprised.
How often do you hear people answer “stressed” when asked how they’re doing? How often do you report your life as being “busy” above all else? We live in a culture that’s chasing the idea of more, and this unquenchable appetite leaves us feeling either worn out or hungry or frustrated by the fact that we just can’t seem to get “there”.
Where is “there” though? What is it we’re looking for?
I think the answer is different for everyone, but ultimately boils down to happiness.
We just want to be happy. And not in a selfish childish way, we want to be happy in deep sincere way that overflows into the life happening around us.
Don’t you want that? Why is it so hard to find?
Did you know that researchers have found a relationship between the rise in cases of anxiety in America and the rise in the number of people who are more influenced by extrinsic motivation (external rewards/consequences) than intrinsic motivation (internal satisfaction/morals)? Meaning, there’s something about seeking satisfaction in status and money and praise that induces more anxiety than chasing things that bring an inner sense of achievement and meaning.
I don’t think we’ve become unaffected or uninterested in intrinsic motivation - I know we long to be passionate and brave and proud of the lives we live - but I wonder if we are too easily distracted by the thrill of extrinsic motivation. There’s something more thrilling about someone telling you you’re beautiful than simply believing it, just like there’s something more thrilling about winning a race than going for a run just because you love it. The problem is though, thrills are only temporary. They quickly dissolve when life gets hard.
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl spent his life researching the importance of finding meaning in all seasons of life. What’s amazing though, is that Frankl survived four concentration camps during WWII and still believed this. He knew better than anyone that life will never be easy or free from pain, and that’s precisely why he explained we need to hold on to something stronger and more powerful than temporary pleasures. Frankl believed that meaning and purpose and passion lead to a happy life, that when we’re head bent, hustling toward our destiny we’ll find pockets of sweet happiness all along the way.
Being told I’m beautiful and likeable and smart and funny makes me incredibly happy, but I know that happiness will quickly wear off if I don’t believe those things myself.
I want to experience the kind of happy that makes my heart beat faster.The kind that flings me forward, head first into life. I don’t want happy that dissolves in my mouth, I want happy that tastes like Funfetti and pink champagne! And, to get this kind of happiness I know I need to do more than look for it externally, I need to find it within.
40 million Americans struggle with anxiety and I know from personal experience that this is often caused by a wide arrange of chemical imbalances in our bodies. At the same one though, I wonder if the number would decrease if we weren’t so frantically trying to grasp onto things we think will make us happy only to have them slip away a few minutes later.
Now, to finish up are you ready for the cheesiest quote of all time?
Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you”. What if we took a minute to sit down quietly today and really think about the kind of life we’re chasing and the kind of life we were made to live? Let us know what you come up with, we can’t wait to hear!