The Price of Happiness


What price are you willing to pay for happiness?

We all have to pay something. But how much? How much are you willing to give up? For your own personal happiness.

I’m not talking about the temporary kind. The feeling you get from your eating at favorite restaurant or watching your favorite TV show. That kind of happiness is important, but fleeting. And while good, simple choices like that can elevate your mood and make your life better, they don’t alter your state of mind.

I’m talking about happiness. To your core.

A feeling so built into your fabric. That when you inhale every bit that life throws at you. The good, the bad, and the worse. That you take that in. And process it. And you breathe happiness back out into the world.

We all want that. We all deserve to be there. To live in a state of pure happiness.

But despite what you might read in a fortune cookie, true happiness is not free. It costs something.

Depending on where we are in life. Depending on the time of year. And sometimes even the time of day. The price will vary.

The price can be low. It can be really low sometimes.

Some huge life decisions can be easy. Some choices are just so obviously correct. They make sense for your happiness across your entire life. These are the no-brainers. You pay that low price by simply making the choice that’s going to make you happier. Without having to think or truly weigh options. The price you pay is only the opportunity cost of not going in another direction. Something you probably didn’t even consider.

It’s low for some people, most of the time.

Some people are just wired this way. They are predispositioned to be happy. They can be happy in almost any job, in almost any relationship, in almost any city. With some people, it feels like they could be happy locked in a jail cell.

But the price can also be high. For all of us, the price is high sometimes.

If your dream job opens up 5000 miles away. And you have to give up the rest of your life, to move there. You might pay that cost. And you just sacrificed so much to be happy in one area of your life. A really high price. But if it’s a price you’re willing to pay. Then it is worth it to you.

For some of us, the price is high most of the time. Or all of the time.

Some of us have our lives set. Locked in. In all areas. So we almost always have to give up something in one area of our lives. To make it better in another.

But as we change and twist and grow and shrink in life. The price isn’t always the same. It’s different for every circumstance. And even in the same circumstances, the price will be different at different times in our lives.

As a young person, the price of happiness oftentimes comes cheaper. Because you can take aspects of your life in isolation. And focus on that. You can make bold decisions with respect to your happiness in that one area. Then build around that.

You can quit your job and move to a new city, just to be with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Because you’re in love, yes. And because your career isn’t set yet. You don’t owe payments on a mortgage yet. Or you can leave everything behind, including a boyfriend or girlfriend, just for a job. That doesn’t have to mean a new city. You can just focus every hour of every day on work. And abandon almost everything else because you want to be happy there. You want to be set on your career.

Some younger people feel pressure. From family. From friends. Financially. From whatever. And you make decisions and non-decisions because of those pressures. And what you are feeling is real. It’s real pressure. And it stops you from pursuing your happiness fully.

It’s funny though. As you get older, I started to realize, how insignificant all of those pressures really were. For me at least. Definitely as compared to what I experienced when I got older.

As you get up in age, the pressures become different. Kids. A spouse. A career. A mortgage. Financial well-being. Personal health.

It’s not that these are bigger things. They are actually fairly similar pressures that you deal with when you’re younger. It’s just that when you get older, these things become connected. They are woven together. Tightly. And that is your life. This tightly woven blanket that surrounds you.

And if you make a decision to solve for happiness in one area of your life. If you go after something with such a passion in one sector of your life. The other areas are all affected. Not always negatively. But they are all affected.

The cost then. Of going after that happiness in one area of your life, is potentially big. It’s not just a simple change. It can be a complete life change.

Happiness then. Can be really, really expensive.

It’s not to say you can’t make yourself happy in one area of your life as an adult. It just often comes with a bigger price.

If you could, right now. Know that you would be happy. But you had to give up your house. Or your best friend. Or your job. Would you do so? What if you really loved those things? What if you loved your house so much, and were so happy there, but it forced you to stay in a high-paying job that you hated just to be able to afford it? What if you really wanted to work in social services? And you know you would be happy doing that job. Would you leave your job and give up that house?

This woven blanket-effect forces you to think in terms of overall happiness. In terms of bettering your entire situation. A change in one area might make that aspect of your life better. But what will it make worse? It forces you to prioritize. And make real life choices based upon your priorities.

Costs for your happiness can be high. Too high sometimes.

Sometimes that means you have to suffer in one area of your life, to rise in another. Sometimes it means suffering in one area, just to maintain in another.

When people say life is complicated. A lot of times, they are referring to this. They mean that life is woven together. And it’s not as easy as just making a decision to make yourself happy.

A time will come when your life needs to be fixed though. When you just need better. Maybe in one aspect. Maybe in more. Maybe you get so miserable in one area of your life, that it begins to affect the others. Maybe you need a complete overhaul.

Then your price of happiness comes down.

But you’re still going to have to give up something. You’re going to have to pay a price. To get where you want to go. There will be times, when you have to pay a very expensive price for happiness.

And no one else can answer this question for you. What are you willing to pay for it? What are you willing to give up for your happiness?