Are Your Priorities Hurting Your Happiness?
What if you had to choose between career, location, or love?
If you had to choose between your dream job, living in heaven on earth, or being with the love of your life, which would you choose? Would you give preference to your career, location, or love? Do you think your priorities are correctly correlated with the outcome you envision for your life?
We all do it. We organize and departmentalize our lives into categories and assign a ranking of which are most important and should receive the most attention. But what if our unconscious decisions are creating an unwanted affect on our lives? What if our daily habits do not match our ultimate goal?
First of all, I have to reiterate that my articles are never intended to be taken as a ‘must-do’ factsheet. They are merely to give another point of view; hopefully to help put your life in perspective. With that being said, the point of this article is to take three aspects of life: career, geography, and love; and evaluate the weight each one carries in the life of the average person. We view these factors in regard to how much they influence your daily life and how they are either improving, or hurting your overall level of happiness.
The average American works 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, 672 hours a month, and 8,064 hours a year. That is about 24% of your life.
24% is a good chunk of your life. Ideally, this time should be spent doing something you love, about which you are passionate. When the mind is actively involved in stimulating work, the ‘pleasure center’ of the brain is activated, releasing dopamine – a.k.a. – good feelings. When you choose work that is challenging, new regional activity in the brain is developed, allowing you to become sharper, more engaged, and ultimately feel more content at the end of the day compared to someone who is doing monotonous work.
As you need mental stimulation and passion in life in order to feel good about yourself, and to attract and sustain a happy relationship, this isn’t an end all. We are all social beings and need social interaction in order to feel affirmed, accepted and loved. ‘Being married to your job’ can be lonely and loneliness can have a horrible impact on health, comparable to high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise, or smoking.
It’s great to prioritize your career at a certain stage in your life, however, be careful you don’t wake up one morning thirty years from now and realize you don’t have anyone with whom to share your success.
Your location determines your environment, your surroundings, what you see, what you do, and the people with whom you interact every single day.
Where you are located encompasses your entire life. Whether it is interacting with the locals, being impacted by the climate that is literally hovering over you, or seeing that beautiful mountain (or eyesore of a building) from your kitchen window, you are surrounded by your environment every single day.
The culture of a city will draw a certain type of crowd, thus creating its own personality. Whether you are kicking back enjoying the local brewery and rock climbing in Boulder, or kissing, I mean kicking ass on Wall street, and whether or not this lifestyle agrees with your personal culture, will have an impact on you as a person.
Here is an example. I lived in Vancouver, surrounded by like-minded, physically active, outdoorsy-type people and had the mountains and forests as my playground. When I moved to NYC, workaholics and concrete surrounded me – I had culture shock in my own continent (dual-citizen).
So, what if you had your dream job and the love of your life, but lived in a dirty, loud, and wretched city? When your mind is actively involved in something about which you are zealous, and you are interacting with supportive, like-minded people who allow you to grow as a person, your sense of your environment can shift. Your mind associates these good feelings with your surroundings. Have you ever had a bad experience in a specific place, and find it extremely difficult to return to that place without re-experiencing those bad feelings? It’s the same exact thing in reverse.
Your significant other may be more encompassing than your physical or work environment. This is the person with whom you wake up, fall asleep, and this person’s words and attitude can make or break you…
Who you end up with at the end of the day is monumental. Whatever happens to you, at work or in your daily life, can be degraded, justified, or dramatically uplifted depending on the words of your support system – your significant other. Sure, your support system may also include your friends and family, however, the person with whom you share your life – your supposed ‘other half’ – will and should have an influence on how you perceive events occurring in your life. Your partners’ outlook on life and general attitude will make or break you.
You can have an amazing job, live in the most beautiful place on earth, and none of it will matter if you don’t have the right person to share it. Nevertheless, you need a person who will push you forward, support you, and encourage you to achieve all of the goals you set in your heart. Therefore, finding a genuine, loving, optimistic, and encouraging significant other to share your life takes the cake on this one.
Just remember: you cannot count on this person to be your source of happiness. When you have each found an inner peace and sense of self, this can create the right environment for a healthy love to grow. Hence, it’s important to always continue to be passionate in your work, your life, and to never stop improving the love between you and your other half.
In conclusion, you have to have balance in your life – a passion, a reason to live, a goal or a project to which you aspire. However, at the end of the day, we all want someone in our life to confirm our success, comfort our failures, and share our experiences.
When I was deciding where to move post-graduation, I chose Vancouver for the beauty and quality of life. However, with the continuous clouds and rain, I seemed to sink into a depression. A year later, when I decided to try New York for grad school, my main reasons included being close to my brother and best friend.
Something was still missing. Somewhere in between dropping out of grad school and moving to Spain (another story), I met someone who changed my perspective and made me recognize the missing component. I hadn’t been in a relationship in six years, because I was always traveling and moving from place to place, dependent on a city’s culture, climate, or job prospects to satisfy my needs. However, after living in the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen, studying my passion at an amazing school, and living abroad in a completely foreign and exciting country, I still seemed to be missing one thing: that one person to share my life.
By Taylor Wade
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