Smiling Baby - Coco Isabella

We could talk all day about the true meaning of life and, at the end of the day, we could just as easily be right back where we started. Instead, most of us would likely agree that we share the common goal of happiness. It’s a terrific feeling, but it is inherently far too vague to have any practical applications. What does it really mean to be happy? And how do you get there?

For the longest time, I was the victim of the “I’ll be happy when” mentality and perhaps I still am. I thought that everything would be sprouting up rainbows and unicorns when I finally got my career off the ground or when I finally purchased my first home. As time went on, I was constantly reminded of how that kind of mindset and that kind of approach simply did not work. If you keep delaying your happiness, you forget to live in the present.

Perhaps it is because I grew up alongside the Internet that I developed an insatiable appetite for novelty. I wanted to watch the newest movies. I wanted to have the newest gadgets. I wanted to try new foods and visit new lands. I thought that the single greatest key to happiness was the constant search for novelty, because stagnation and routine were the opposite of happiness. And I was wrong.

Continuing through the thought process, I thought I finally figured it all out: the greatest feeling in the world and the key to unlocking a stellar sense of joy is accomplishment. It felt great to launch my own freelance writing business and strike it out on my own. It felt great to land my first client and receive my first payment. It felt great to publish a book and buy a home. These were all great, yet they weren’t quite enough. They were fleeting.

And the greatest feeling in the world should not be a passing fancy that flutters away in the wind, moment to moment. It needs to be sustainable. It needs to be there for the long haul, motivating you to continue doing whatever it is that you’re doing.

It’s not about what’s just over the hill. It’s not about novelty and it’s not about a sense of accomplishment. What I feel I know now is that the best feeling in the world is the feeling of being needed (and being appreciated). It’s about the sense that what you are doing matters, not only to yourself but to others. It’s about the sense that you have a purpose and a reason, even if you may not yet have determined a clear direction.

For me, and this won’t necessarily be true for everyone else, this mindset really emerged when I started to re-evaluate my life in light of having a child. I’m responsible for a living, breathing human being. She needs me and, in doing so, she completes me. I still may not know exactly what I’m doing, but at least I now know that I have to do it.

And maybe that’s one type of accomplishment, the type that I cherish the most.