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Levels of Happiness

May 24, 2012

There exists a range of “happiness,” as in “the right to pursue” happiness.  The lowest rung is Contentment and the highest rung is Passionate.

I suspect for most of us, we pursue contentment.  A place where our bills are paid and debt is slow to pile up, where our relationships are good but our potential is merely scratched.  Truthfully, I think we are raised to pursue to whatever level we aspire to.

Higher up is Thrilled.  Bills are paid, debt is non-existent and savings and retirement are decently stocked, relationships are stimulating.  We are playing in the middle fields of our potential.

Higher still is Excited, where you’re set for life financially, you live most days to fulfillment and your potential is in the upper percentiles.

Before I get to the top rung, you may be balking at the financial metric.  After all, most of us know people financially set who are miserable.  Remember, this is the happiness index; the misery index has people across the financial spectrum.

Okay, now the top-most rung.

Passionate.  You may be fiscally wealthy or dead broke, your relationships are vital and challenging, you may be in debt (if you discovered your passion later in life) or be debt- and materially-free.  You are working or serving in your field of excellence and your potential is at its peak!  You’re filled with internal energy.

Let’s look at a few people.

Contentment: me, no one of note or fame.

Thrilled: People enjoying success in their field.  You know several, but they aren’t famous or anything.

Excited:  Most happy celebrities.  It takes work and ambition to achieve success in your field, you know many who aren’t famous of course, but famous people who aren’t in the misery index are here.

Passionate:  Mother Theresa; the absolute tops of any field (who aren’t miserable).  Millions who aren’t known, tend to solicit donations, and fight for righteous causes; their passion is often out of proportion to their circumstances.

I know my field.  I know what passionate would look like.  I’m certain I could sustain it if I got there… I just don’t have the ambition (and maybe the knowledge) to get there.  Drive, ambition, relentlessness are almost absent from my make up.  I suspect there’s learned helplessness.  I hope to somehow muster up the drive I need to start that journey, I’m just not sure how.

Where does the learned helplessness come from?  I think from lack of challenges growing up.  As a kid and truly most of my life, everything came easy.  School was easy, most things I tried were easy, and in college, I didn’t challenge myself with individual tasks, I challenged myself with capacity, taking a double/triple-load of classes while working full time and performing/writing/directing on stage.  I’ve never had to work to excel, so tackling the difficult stuff of “getting there” seems beyond me.  There you go, more self-confession than anticipated.

The misery index is self-descriptive.  People are miserable when they aren’t doing what they love to do but rather what they have to do (or think they have to do).  The pursue the wrong things at the wrong time.

What about you? What kind of happiness are you seeking?

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 25, 2012 10:13 am

    Very interesting approach, Rob. I looked up “content” in the 1828 Dictionary and it included this – “often implying a moderate degree of happiness.” I think somehow I have been duped with the notion that contentment is enough. I, like you confess about yourself, do not have the drive it takes to be passionate and live at that level. Perhaps this is a matter for prayer and maybe repentence. Maybe I take too lightly the gifts that God has bestowed. Thanks for the food for thought this morning.

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