The following essay was written by Dr. Michael J. Hurd, at drhurd.com. His work can be found on his website’s “Daily Dose of Reason,” as well his many books. He is a practicing psychotherapist.
How do you know if your standard of happiness is realistic?
I hear a lot of people asking, “Do I want too much?”
I know of two ways to answer this question.
Does somebody you know, or know about, have what you want? Does the evidence support your perception? If so, then you know it’s possible. While the fact someone else has what you want does not guarantee you can have it, it shows you it’s possible. There’s nothing in the laws of nature to prevent it.
Second, form a hypothesis. Decide what you want and then break it down. “What would 10 percent of what I want look like?” Then hypothesize or speculate how long it will take you to get it. Come up with a critical path or plan for obtaining it.
Then stop worrying or wondering. Simply execute your plan over time.
Either you’ll get the 10 percent, or you won’t. But half the battle is trying, and most failure to attain results from lack of trying.
Caution: There are no guarantees. But there are almost always possibilities. People give up on the possibilities, and that’s why they become depressed, sad or hopeless.
It’s not, “I didn’t get what I want and now I’m depressed.” Most of the time, the truth is much closer to, “I gave up on what I wanted, and now I’m depressed.”
When people feel depressed, they mourn their loss of hope more than the fact they know they tried their best and failed. And those who try their best generally accomplish more than expected, if not everything.
It’s giving up that kills people more than not getting.
What I’m saying applies to the material or the non-material. It applies equally to things, wealth or attributes of skill, intelligence or virtue.
As psychological theorist Aaron Beck once wrote, man is a practical scientist in everyday life. Using reason and applying it to our lives and emotions makes both logical and psychological sense.
If only more people did this, the world would be infinitely better. The good news is you can make your own life better right now by doing it.