Could the trick to happiness be not seeking it? (2 min read)

Here’s a paradox to puzzle over: rather than seeking happiness in life, you might be happier if you didn’t.

As a Counsellor, I rarely use the word ‘happiness’ with others. Instead, I use words like ‘acceptance’ or ‘on-track’. For example, I might ask ‘how acceptable are things for you right now?’ or ‘how on-track do you think you are right now?’To me, this is less pressurising and promotes flexibility in thinking/emotions and a greater range of wellbeing beyond that of being happy.

To help someone to achieve a state of happiness can be a daunting task for both counsellor and counselee alike. And while I encourage you to enjoy happiness when it happens (maybe it happens when you are doing your favourite past time?), uni study often leaves limited time for such pursuits.

Rather than promoting the pursuit of happiness, why not make the existing world of study and work as acceptable of an experience as it possibly can be? And if it is not acceptable, take some actions to get it there.

The questions I’d be encouraging you to ask yourself are these:

  • What is the first sign of unacceptability of experience (spoiler alert: usually the answer relates to such things as not coping)
  • What’s your go-to action to get things back on-track and into the acceptable range of experience?
  • Once back on track, what is the important thing to do/thing to maintain this acceptable position? Are you doing it? If not, can you include it in your schedule?

I hope this is useful!

Karey Meisner, PhD, MEd (Dist), BA (Crim & Psy)
School of Health Sciences/Kura Mātai Hauora
Clinical Educator – Counselling
Registered Counsellor with New Zealand Association of Counsellors

ICYMI, here are some recent blog posts in this wellbeing blogpost series:



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