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Have you ever worked really hard, enduring ups and downs in order to achieve a goal you set for yourself? Maybe a goal like wanting to get fit, lose weight, run a marathon, do a triathlon, complete a degree, have a baby, get married, buy a house, travel overseas or get a better job. You finally achieve your goal and suddenly you’re faced with the anti-climax of it all being over! Suddenly all that energy and focus is no longer needed and you don’t know what to do with it. What was supposed to make you really happy is done and dusted. Achieving the goal happens in a moment, the journey to get there takes a lot longer.

Sure you are happy because you achieved it, but what do you do then? What do you focus all that energy and drive on? What’s next? Well, usually you set another goal or challenge and actively engage in another pursuit.

I think we do this because it’s in our DNA. We are made to strive, to grow, to enjoy overcoming limitations and discovering our own potential. Each pursuit we undertake provides opportunities to grow, learn about ourselves, engage with others and feel truly fully alive! It’s what makes us happy. I’m not talking about Hollywood happiness with a “white picket fence,” “once upon a time” or “happy ever after.”

I’m talking about hard work, struggle, triumph, stretching your mind and body to reach further than it ever has before. I’m talking about being focused, engaged, feeling every part of your being present in the moment, working towards achieving that goal. It’s that feeling you get when you are so engaged in what you are doing that time stands still. You are no longer aware of anything other than what it is you are doing. You are in flow. This is true happiness. It’s what we all aspire to. So much so that the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the constitutions of many countries as a basic human right.

But what is often not mentioned is the joy of the journey leading to the attainment of happiness. True happiness comes from striving to live life to the fullest. That includes having goals, dreams, challenges, struggles, triumphs and learning curves. It’s about engaging in pursuits that have purpose and meaning to you, more than actually achieving the goal you’ve set.

You can probably tell from what you’ve just been reading that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, deliberating and reflecting. I really believe what I’ve written here and try to live it everyday of my life. You may not share my beliefs or have the same perspective. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.