You find yourself curious yet defiant towards this idea: that our quest to “find ourselves” is what’s actually causing us to be unhappy. How can trying to figure out who we are be a cause for discontent? A lot of us have felt or been led to believe that we need to define ourselves, to figure out who we are and what we want, in order to discover what makes us happy.
But what if the truth is much simpler than that?
You’ll Find Happiness When You Stop Trying to Find Yourself
We are living in an age where the definition of success is again changing. Being successful once meant getting rich, or bagging that coveted position in the corporate ladder. It still does for many. But the millennial generation is more likely to judge success by their ability to turn their passion into a source of income, by how many stamps they have collected on their passport, or by how many followers they have accrued on Twitter or Instagram.
So what is success, really? I will not answer that for you, because who decides which definition is the right one? Your idea of success could be entirely different from mine. So why should one be better than the other? Why compare at all?
What if I told you the same logic can be applied to happiness? The things that make you happy might not do the same for me. But shouldn’t it stand to reason then than finding ourselves will help us better understand what makes us happy?
To live is to change
Before I answer that question, I want you to ask yourself, do you still like playing hide and seek, like you did as a kid? Or do you prefer playing on your PS5 or going clubbing now? You might have loved chocolate cake a couple of months ago, but maybe cheesecake makes your mouth water today. You never were an animal person, but perhaps suddenly, you find yourself secretly enjoying watching dog or cat videos on YouTube.
By now, you have probably picked up on the common thread — your preferences have changed. We are constantly changing. Different periods, life experiences, people and places will constantly mold us into something new. We are always evolving.
So what use is it to seek to “find” ourselves, when the moment we feel we know who we are or what makes us tick — BOOM — we have changed some more? You will never find a fixed answer to who you are, because the answer is never fixed. And because you will never really find a stable answer, the question will keep gnawing at you, leaving you feeling incomplete and discontent. You will feel like a failure, for not being competent enough to even answer the most basic question: ‘Who am I’?
Sit back and enjoy the music
How do you feel when a song is stuck in your head and you just can’t recall the lyrics or the singer? Annoyed maybe? Even very annoyed? It’s a powerful analogy, isn’t it?
The moment you realize and accept that there is no fixed answer to who you are, you will learn to love yourself as is — to simply enjoy the song, without needing to name the singer. The moment you learn to let go is is the moment you will feel at peace, because you will no longer be ‘chasing’ anything. You will simply be.
You are your thoughts. So let your thoughts embrace the chaos of flux and the constant myriad of changes. Accept yourself in every moment. Define your terms for your personal success and happiness. But don’t stop there. Keep redefining those terms.
And finally, you will realize that you’re no longer chasing something that always seems just slightly out of reach, but instead walking alongside change as a happy life companion.