There’s No Such Thing As “A Ticket To Happiness”

“God damn it, why is the sun so bright?” I complained to myself as I ran past the lakefront on the first sunny, Spring day Chicago has seen in weeks. You see, just a few days ago, I was begging for some warmth and sunshine to break through the monotonous winter. I imagined how much happier I’d be once the sun came out again, the weather was above freezing, and there weren’t piles of snow everywhere.

And yet, here I was, basking in the sunlight I had so badly wished for, and in a matter of moments, I found a new reason to complain. A new thing to “wish away,” another reason I couldn’t be happy.

This isn’t an isolated incident. I’ve been noticing this concerning pattern a lot in my life lately — this desire to daydream about how much happier I’ll be once I have X, Y, or Z (insert new apartment, new career, new boyfriend, etc.).

The issue is, over the course of the last year, I HAVE made quite a few changes to my life in which you’d think I’d find and embrace a level of happiness I’ve never known before.

For instance, a year ago, I worked in advertising, dreaming about the moment I could quit my job and pursue my dream of launching my own personal development program. That was, I believed, my direct, nonstop ticket to Happiness.

I’d be able to run my own business, design my own days and live the life I had always wanted. And, as you know, I made the jump in November and started my own business. I’m now able to design my own days and live a life I love. The only issue is…

I quickly, concerningly quickly, fell back to my happiness set point.

I found new reasons to complain, new issues to deal with, new dilemmas that have tainted my ticket to Happiness, therefore I started looking for a new ticket.

(P.S. — That’s not to say this change hasn’t improved my life, it absolutely has! However, my mind is programmed to look for the next best thing, not sit and bask in the joy of what I’ve created.)

I’ll give you another example! I always, always, always wanted a dog. And I spent months dreaming about what my life would look like when I got a dog. Not a day went by. I didn’t spend hours on Petfinder, googling breeders, applying to pups — I was obsessed because, I thought, THIS would be my ticket to happiness.

Once I got a dog, I’d have a companion, a friend to walk with, someone to snuggle with; they’d keep my company when I was lonely, fill my day with excitement, love, and pure, pure joy.

Wrong. Penny is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but it only took a few months after getting Penny to return to my Happiness setpoint and find yet ANOTHER new “ticket to Happiness.”

You see, if there’s one thing I learned, it’s that if you’re always looking for that “ticket to Happiness,” you’ll never actually get there.

My greatest, purest joy and happiness has been found in the everyday moments by appreciating what I have rather than focusing on what I don’t.

Instead of googling what my dream car would look like, I spent the afternoon cleaning and organizing my car. I discovered an appreciation for this thing I had lost for so many years, a thing I had taken for granted far too long.

Instead of complaining about how so many of my friends moved out of town, I spent the evening Facetiming loved ones, remembered just how many people love me in my life.

Instead of watching cute dog videos on Tik Tok, I spend my afternoons taking Penny to the dog park and watching her play with her puppy friends, remembering just how badly I wanted this experience a short year ago.

Instead of imagining how much easier life would be once I became a multi-million dollar entrepreneur, I’m focusing on finding joy in the uncertainty of this process. Embracing the potential rather than basking in fear of the unknown.

It’s these minor changes in perspective that have brought a wave of gratitude to my life, and ultimately, a glimpse of the Happiness I’d been waiting for. The trick is…there’s no such thing as a ticket to Happiness.

Spoiler Alert: You’re already at happiness’s door; you just have to open your eyes…

I recently came home from Florida and found myself wishing I lived on a body of water because THEN I would be really, really happy. I could visit the beach each day, watch the waves crash against the sand, and see the sunrise each morning. So, I spent a week or two searching for apartments in Southern California…

Then, my dumb ass looked out my window to see that I lived approximately 4 blocks from the Chicago Lakefront, where I could visit the beach, watch the waves and enjoy the sunrise anytime I want. So, I took my ungrateful ass off the couch, laced up my shoes, and went for a run on the lakefront. That day, I let the sunbeam straight into my eyes because I’m so fucking grateful for this bright, sunny day.

(Follow me on Instagram to keep up with my pursuit of happiness and much more! Visit carahays.com to learn more about my Six Months of Me program!)

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Cara Hays

Cara Hays

Cara Hays is a personal development guru based in Chicago IL. Her Six Months of Me program helps millennial women unapologetically focus on themselves.