By Brandi Rice

I’ve recently realized for the better part of my life, I’ve made choices based on what I thought I should be doing and not based on what I wanted to be doing. This has resulted in a successful college career and a successful start into the professional and working world. Sounds great, right?

All of my decisions have lead to good things in my life, but because I wasn’t honest with myself and didn’t make decisions based on what I actually wanted to do, I have found great discontent with my life. The pursuit of happiness should be founded in decisions of what you want to be doing and not what you should be doing.

Doing the things you should can have acceptable results. There is nothing that says it will stop you from having a decent life externally, but internally you might find yourself having an inner discord.

Aristotle put it best, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” This can be achieved he believed by finding balance between the physical and mental well-being. The physical is often much easier to obtain. For our physical bodies, we work out and eat right. For the conditions that exist physically around us, we work to make money and hopefully make enough to buy a nice car, own a house, and occasionally indulge in extravagant goodies. All of these things can be achieved by making choices based on what you should do. But what about your mental well-being?

I personally have attained a good amount of physical well-being, but the happiness that is based upon my mental well-being is lacking. Why? Because I didn’t depend upon myself or trust myself to make choices that would make me happy. For Aristotle, happiness did not constitute an ephemeral moment, but rather it is the end goal. Happiness is the measure of how well you lived your life to the fullest potential.

I have not being living my life to the fullest potential by doing the things I should. Those choices have brought me physical comfort, but my mind is at unrest because I’m stuck on the choices I could have done. However, I have chosen to change that, and it’s quite a simple fix.

It doesn’t require a drastic, dramatic action. Take baby steps as you lunge toward your happiness. Remember, according to Aristotle, happiness is a marathon not a sprint. Take small measures to indulge in a little happiness. If you find happiness in painting, take a few minutes each day to paint. If your happiness comes from writing, write in a journal each day. Before you dive into the deep to pursue what sets your soul on fire, wade in a bit first and achieve the transition naturally.

So, you are like me and have made all of your life choices based on the word “should,” take the time to daily start making choices solely on your discretion. It is never too late to pursue our happiness.

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