So many of us tell ourselves and others that the most important thing is “to be happy.” Of late, I’ve been dissuaded by this point of view. Happiness is a by-product of the many other pursuits we lead in our lives as spouses, friends and coworkers.
Of course, happiness is a worthy pursuit. We seek it, and we wish it upon our kids as if attaining happiness is a destination to reach that will permanently eradicate sorrow, loneliness, personal concerns and needs. Hardly. Happiness is unsustainable. Life’s responsibilities and uncertainties, its inevitable road bumps and pains overwhelm our ability to live in a constant state of happiness.
And yet, we do experience moments of happiness. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that the very act of giving back to the community boosts our happiness, health and sense of well-being. My guess is you don’t need scientific proof to know that helping others just makes you feel good. Think about how you feel when you make a donation to a cause you believe in, serve in a soup kitchen, tutor a teen, or buy a child a gift for the holidays.
Jordan Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist, (and YouTube phenom) has a direct and often confrontational style when discussing current affairs topics. He can certainly ruffle feathers when he pushes back on progressive issues and ideas often considered unassailable by our latest, younger generation. Where he truly shines, however, is how he asks us to take personal responsibility for ourselves.
Peterson, among others, sees no limits on what it is we are each capable of achieving. When we take the myopic focus off of ourselves and what he refers to as “an unending diet of rights and freedoms,” we benefit personally. Embracing truth and personal responsibility are Peterson’s prescriptions for a meaningful life. As for me, I’ve come to understand that rather than being the goal of our existence, happiness is the result of greater, more lasting and meaningful goals.
This month’s issue
Our January “Business and Nonprofit” issue features a number of nonprofit organizations and the work they do, including the Valley of the Moon Foundation, United Cerebral Palsy of the North Bay, Community Action Marin and The Living Room. These nonprofit organizations serve the people of the North Bay, and they are helping them in practical, everyday ways, which in the end, help make our communities stronger. Those at the helm of these organizations, as well as their board members, staff and volunteers are finding real happiness by dedicating themselves for the benefit of others.
We reveal the best of ourselves by being an overwhelming force of good for the sake of others. Prevailing despite our own inadequacies and the challenges of life is the positive outcome of these actions. This month’s issue is dedicated to those who, indeed, prevail. I hope you find the stories on these pages as inspiring as we have at NorthBay biz.
Wishing you all the best in the new year, and let’s all think of ways to support our community, so we can experience those great moments of happiness in 2022. In the meantime, keep in touch. Write to me at Lawrence@NorthBaybiz.com.