Finding Wholeness (Not Happiness)
What does happiness mean?
Our founding fathers made a point of saying that a basic human right was to be able to pursue happiness, but what does that look like? Is happiness getting everything you want? Having a job that you are excited to wake up to every single day? Having a family that you never fight with? Does happiness look like an episode of Leave It To Beaver?
What is Happiness?
The dictionary defines happiness as “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.” Contentment. Is that really how you want to feel every second of every day? I don’t know about you, but I want more than contentment. I want the full scale of emotions. Imagine watching a movie for 2 hours where everything was content. You’d be watching grass grow. So then why do we expect our lives to always be filled with happiness and no struggle? The best stories in life don’t come from contentment they come from problems being overcome. From you getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new.
The question then doesn’t become “are you happy”, the better question, as Hugh Mackay asked, is “are you whole“?
The pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep” and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness.” Ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.
What is Wholeness?
Defined as “a thing that is complete in itself” is really what we’re all searching for. There are still days you’ll want to cry, or yell, or laugh. There are days that will feel like they will never end and days that will go so fast you don’t know where the time went. Wholeness is getting the complete spectrum. But even better, wholeness is being complete in yourself. It isn’t looking to the outside for joy or peace. The shopping spree or perfect family won’t make a difference. Whoneless is spent looking inside yourself and finding that you needed was with you all along. Just like Dorothy and the ruby red slippers.
How to Add Wholeness to Your life
So what does this mean for your life and business?
It means that everything worthwhile takes risk. The brand you want to build the lifestyle you’ve dreamt of creating is all available to you, but you might have to do some things to get uncomfortable, to be discontent, in order to get them. And know, that that’s normal. I’m not pushing you to risk your values or sacrifice your self-care, after all, My business is all about work-life balance. But what it does mean is not getting to watch Netflix all the time. It means going to networking events when you’d rather curl up in a corner and cry rather than have to talk to strangers. It means saying no to friends and family so that you can take care of yourself and so you can build your business.
Find What Makes You Whole
A life of happiness is what we’ve been taught to want. But to me, that’s not reaching high enough. That’s a life of mediocrity. What I’m searching for, and hoping for you too, is a life of wholeness. A life where your actions and your values align. Where adventure and risk are part of your daily routine. And when you get to the end you can proudly say “I did it all, I really lived,” without the regret of overworking and not spending time with your loved ones.
That, my friends, is what a life of wholeness (not happiness) looks like.
Katie Leigh is a brand strategist and photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. Her experience as a former graphic designer and former marketing director provide a unique perspective when it comes to your brand. Whether you want to get clear in your message and create a brand strategy that supports your work-life balance or need to update your website with photos that tell your story, Katie Leigh will help you get clear in your marketing and create sustainable practices to build the brand (and life!) of your dreams. Get the guide to work-life balance and more marketing resources here.