Does Long-Term Happiness Require Suffering First?

chains and butterfly
Love, Self

What would you sacrifice now to find happiness that lasts?

Sacrifice is a tricky word. Let's say, for example, that you can't get enough Haagen Dazs Mint Chip ice cream. Nothing beats sitting on the couch after a long day and making your way through a pint of deliciousness, one mouth-watering bite at a time. Would it be a sacrifice to give up this little piece of comfort that seems to make all your problems go away? Absolutely. But no pleasure comes without pain, so with each pleasurable pint comes tighter jeans. Not only do you think about how tight your jeans are when you put them on in the morning, but you think about it the entire day, making a commitment to never have a bite, much less a pint, of ice cream ever again ... at least not until after work.

This is as true for ice cream as it is for love. Who among us hasn't loved someone toxic? On one level it's an adrenalin rush that's too tempting to ignore, but on another level, it's a peace-robbing, energy drain that delays our happiness.

So does happiness require sacrifice? The answer is both yes and no.

If we look at the bigger picture, the real sacrifice is not all the various serotonin or adrenalin boosting behaviors, but inner peace, which happens to be the source of happiness. When we have peace, we live in the moment, experiencing all the gifts that life has to offer. The trick to maximizing happiness is committing to behaviors that have a high inner peace ratio — behaviors that don't cause guilt or remorse. In doing so, we step out of our heads and into our lives where peace allows us to be present, and ultimately, happy.

Bottom line: When it comes to happiness, sacrifice, is well, no sacrifice.