What’s More Important To You Than Being Happy?

The longer I live, the surer I become that happiness is primarily a matter of choice.

Aside from seeing this in my own life, I see it in others. I see people in horrible situations who are happier than most people, and I see people who have it good who are far less happy than most. 

If I’m right, then if someone is usually unhappy it’s because they have chosen to be unhappy. Or they have not chosen to be happy, which is the same thing. Why would anyone make such a choice? Because there’s something that is more important to them than being happy.

In Be Gracious, Not Grumpy, Lori talked about a woman who was determined to be angry and critical. This woman was one of three dozen guests who had a problem because of a mix up between the port and the cruise line. Lori and I were part of this group. Most of us grumbled a bit then went on with life waiting to see if the problem would be resolved – which it was. I talked with many of those affected by this issue over the course of the cruise, and all but this one lady felt it was handled well. All the rest were happy with the way it worked out, while this one lady remained upset and dissatisfied.

The kicker is one of the couples with us ran into this woman at a meal and heard her telling a young woman the way to get what you want was to be demanding and hard to please. For this woman being unhappy was a life choice. Even if she does get what she wants more often than the rest of us, what good is it doing her? She might be getting her way more often, but she’s less happy. Apparently getting her way is more important to her than being happy.

So what, if anything, is more important to you than being happy?

~ Paul – I’m XY, and since I realised happiness is a choice I’ve been happy far more often.

Links may be monetised
Image Credit: © Marek | stock.adobe.com

Shop Amazon ♦ Shop to give links page
We’re donation supported Thanks for your help!
Where we’re going Contact us about speaking

11 Comments on “What’s More Important To You Than Being Happy?

  1. I would say that the grumpy lady was quite happy being just the way she is!

    I recently read a thought-provoking reflection on buying and selling; we ‘sell’ the most precious things we have to obtain other things. We ‘sell’ our honesty to ‘buy’ the feeling of getting on someone’s good side when we tell them what we want to hear. We ‘sell’ our freedom to ‘buy’ a spouse, children. Etc. Constantly buying and selling, based on what seems most important at the moment. That grumpy lady ‘sold’ her equanimity for the chance to ‘buy’ some wave-making. I’ll bet it makes her happy enough.

    It’s when we realize that our choices make us UNhappy that we find motivation to change. I once openly expressed my low self-esteem because I thought it was the right way to be. When I recognized that I was unhappy and making others unhappy, I found the courage to reject being neurotic about things. My life has been much happier ever since.

  2. What’s more important than happiness? Well, a suitcase full of cash and an M60, for starters…

    Whoa. Sorry. Wrong paradigm.

    Seriously, I think happiness is like a soap-bubble. We can watch it and treasure its delicate beauty in the moment, but once we try to hold on to it, it’s gone.

    And that, I think, is the key, living in the moment without either attachment or neglect.

    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 314 – MilestonesMy Profile

  3. Being holy is more important than being happy.

    There are many examples in the Bible when God-fearing men and women were anything but happy. God created all of our emotions. God Himself does not always choose to be happy.

    You and Lori have talked about how your marriage was troubled before Lori became sexually generous, and Paul – you have stated that, at the time, you would have been unable to be the first one to make a change. Were you unable to choose to be happy in those circumstances? Would it have been appropriate?

    God gave us a basic need for relational intimacy, how does one choose to be happy when one’s basic needs are not being met? One can give thanks in all circumstances, and one can experience peace and joy by walking in the Spirit, but sometimes it’s not possible (or maybe even right) to be happy. It’s easy for you to say that happiness is a choice, when you got what you wanted.

    • I am not happy about certain lacks in our marriage bed and in our marriage, but overall I choose to be happy with what I do have. Oh, I get triggered and choose to go down that our every so often, but I am also trying to be happy with my circumstances.

      Sometimes it isn’t too cheezy to play Pollyanna.

    • @T – I agree being holy is more important than being happy. I also think it’s rarely a choice of being one or the other.

      A couple of corrections – I would have said lack of sex was our only big problem – but I was wrong. I did make some changes, and I think I could and should have made more. Would it have been appropriate for me to be generally happy then? Yeah, I think so. I could have done that and still been all about getting things fixed. For me, then, what was more important than being happy was making Lori aware it was her fault I was not happy. I thought my unhappiness gave me leverage. It was childish and unloving, but it’s how I was then.

      This last weekend we spoke, and we talked about the regrets of the dying. One of those, according to palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware Bronnie, is ” I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Trying For The Wrong ReasonsMy Profile

      • The nurse’s quote got me thinking…I just realized I have shifted my unhappiness from one area to another. It goes along with you, Paul, saying you felt your unhappiness gave you leverage. I realized that I am “happy” in my marriage/marriage bed but that is only because I don’t have any more leverage. Hubby drew his boundary lines and stands firm. I cannot make him change and despite my unhappiness with it, overall it isn’t a hill worth dying on. But is my motivation peace and silver linings, or did I just give up because I have no leverage? Likely the latter because I still struggle with anger and unhappiness in other areas…so much so that I do worry about my future mental and physical health.

        This gives me a lot to pray about and chew on.

  4. Not being fooled or lied to is more important to me than being happy. It’s kind of sad, because I used to be a very happy person. I can still act happy on the outside, but I’m not happy on the inside.
    After being hurt, I have trust issues. I feel I have lost my ability to determine if someone is lying to me, so I err on the side of negativity. It’s a stupid philosophy, but I’m not sure how to break it. If I believe the worst, and they truly mean the best, then oh well. But if I believe the best and they are lying to me and it’s really the worst, then I’ve been fooled again. That feels unsafe.

    • I think the real question is, why do you care so much what others think?

      I used to be cynical as a teenager, for pretty good circumstantial reasons and a strong melancholy bent. Expect nothing not be disappointed. As I grew older I saw that that is a rather childish philosophy. It’s easy to be cynical. It’s harder and much healthier to choose to see good.

      So choose to believe the good. If they were lying, so what? That’s their problem, and 100% reflection of their character. Sucks to be them I suppose. It has nothing to do with you.

      I think you’ll find the honest people outnumber the liars by quite a bit. It’s difficult and emotionally draining to constantly keep up a front/ double life/ charade/ whatever. Most people are so caught up with their own problems, they can’t be bothered to lie to spare other’s feelings.

  5. “What’s more important to you than being happy?”

    Having a purpose and meaning in life.

    To me, happiness is a state of having one’s wants and needs met for the time being.
    A state of contentment.

    Some of the most fulfilling moments in my life were the times I’ve been able to bring some peace, kindness, and support to other’s during some of the worst moments in their lives.

    To me, purpose and meaning in life transcends happiness.

      • I agree that having purpose and meaning can make one feel happy.

        But, I also believe that having a purpose and meaning in life can get you through times when you may be extremely unhappy in general.

        My brother is physically disabled. He has been homeless for over two years. He’s in much pain, often has nothing to eat, and tries to find shelter from the weather to sleep.
        He does smile and laugh at times, but it is extremely difficult for him to ‘put on a happy face’ on a consistent basis. He has taken it upon himself to help another homeless person who is worse off than himself. I believe that helping this other person has brought meaning and purpose to his life and that is what keeps him going.

        I can’t say that helping this other person has exactly made him feel happy in general, but it has given him a reason to live.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: