This question has been nagging the back of my mind for a long time. Do the choices you make have to be based on your happiness?
After a while, I realized that there is really no definite answer. It just depends on what your view on life is. And here is mine.
First off, I think the perception or the idea of choosing to do what makes you happy in order to achieve the ultimate goal of "happiness" is an idea stemmed from the current social environment of the twenty-first century. With the introduction of technology, a mass means of sharing information, as well as the ability to connect with people around the world, many people tend to live through their screens. However, the subconscious mind, realizing the lack of productivity and basic human characteristics like natural observation and social interaction, makes a person feel discontent. As a result, people begin to compare themselves to what they see on their screens.
Ultimately it's all around unhappiness. As a society, we have moved towards a more restricted way of thinking. What I mean by that, is that we limit our choices to only those that make us happy.
Things like plastic surgery, over-eating and drugs are such examples of choices that are believed to make a person "happy". To be completely honest, not all of those choices are really going to make us happy and are more likely to have a negative effect on our future.
From these examples mentioned above, we find that we as a society don't truly know what happiness is and how to make it last. We are drawn to immediate solutions, forgetting to consider the long-term repercussions. Not everything that needs to be done will make you happy.
For example, maybe you have to take a higher math class in order to graduate with a certain major. That math class may not make you happy, but it still needs to be done. Why does it NEED to be done? Well, that's because you want to get a major in that certain area because that's your goal, your source of "happiness".
We can draw a similar parallel to life. There are certain things that might not make us happy, like listening to our parents, helping out a sibling or cleaning up after ourselves. But the reality is that it NEEDS to be done. Why?
Well, that's up to you to decide. It's up to you to have a goal you are working towards. To put the importance of having a goal into perspective, imagine that you have a long road ahead of you. At the end of the road, you see that your mother is tied up on a railroad (I know a little extreme but it works). Your goal is to get to her before the train does. So do you pay attention to the dog poo that smears on your shoes as you run towards your mother? Or how about the phone that slips out of your pocket as you run. No, you pay attention to the thing that is most important, your mother.
And how would you feel once you've reached your mom and untied her?
Relieved, happy, thankful and accomplished. Your first thought doesn't go to your losses (your phone or shoes), it goes towards your gain (your mother).
Having a goal is good, but having conviction in that goal is even better. Imagine if you didn't care about what happened to your mom and didn't feel responsible to help her. As a result, you decided to stop when your phone fell and when you stepped on the poo. By the time you start to get up to run again, the train would have reached your mom already. All because you didn't feel conviction towards your goal.
It is also important to try to work towards a reliable goal like pleasing your lord, the eternal reward, the one who has no end, the constant.
To explain what a reliable goal is, let's look at an unreliable goal. If your goal in life is to please your Instagram followers, that's an unreliable goal. Let's be realistic for a second. What if your IG account deletes, you lose your followers or you start getting a lot of hate. The result will be severe unhappiness, depression and possibly suicide, which we see in many famous people today.
That's why it's important to keep a reliable goal. The wisdom in keeping a reliable goal is that you stay content. I think that people often substitute happiness for contentment.
Happiness is temporary and contentment is not. Contentment is when you're not constantly looking for choices or opportunities to be happy, because you're satisfied with what you have. When you are content, you're not worried about getting more out of life, rather you're worried about working towards a goal.
When you make a reliable goal and work towards it with conviction, you will find contentment and happiness along the way. You will find happiness in the things that will benefit you in the long run or the hereafter. Make your choices based on what will benefit you mentally and spiritually and you will find yourself happy.