Rewards are blood-sucking vampires of happiness
The rewards that we give ourselves as fame, fortune, position, clout, acquisitions, trophies, connections, and social network friends, and of course money provide only short lived gratification and happiness. These rewards come in with a bang and fizzle quickly; we cannot remain happy for very long if we rely on a constant feed of this type of reward; no one ever could.
As we keep comparing ourselves to the achievements of others, keep rushing towards our next targets, keep worrying about what others think of us – we, in fact, are successfully making ourselves more and more anxious, or unhappy, or lifeless.
If all you did was gather money while expecting it to make you happy forever, you had been dead wrong all along. Because beyond the point at which your needs of survival and basic comforts have been met, more money does not give more happiness. Having more money – and acquiring more “things” by using that money – does not match strongly with more satisfaction in our lives, as many studies have shown.
Today, a failure of the financial markets can wipe out our acquisitions overnight. A failure of the banks can devalue all the money that we hold and have. And disasters that are nature-born or human-made, can topple our well-balanced scales of life. To make us realize how wrong we had been in our assessments!
But once we look around, we find that we are all doing just that in endless circles – making the same misjudgements over and over again, while disbelieving that the skies cannot fall on our heads! Why? Why do we wait for such disasters to happen and make us realize that trusting those rewards to give us long-lasting happiness was just a wrong idea of living? Because we are focusing too sharply on the rewards that we choose to give ourselves. Because, in one way or other, we are all trying to give our lives some meaningfulness. A meaningfulness that goes beyond just living the grind from one day to another. And so, we choose to give ourselves rewards – the objects of easy gratification – as payoff for our daily hardships.
Don’t be fooled
After a hard day at work, when you slump down on your couch to watch TV, you are giving yourself an easy reward – opting for the path of least resistance. When, instead, you could have played with your child, caught up with a walk in the nature, or read a few pages from that long-due book. But you did not! You did not realize that the path of the easiest reward often stretches into the path of the worst stress. Which, even though sounding like a meaningful act, was not. It was just an easy reward wearing the mask of meaningfulness. It was an army of invincible vampires wearing pleasant masks draining the life-blood of your happiness.
About the author: Sandip Roy is the Founder of Happiness India Project happyproject.in Positive Psychology Writer. Blogger, Speaker, Seeker, Dreamer. Also, a GP.