True happiness or Settling for less?

by Jun Loayza on October 15, 2009

happy pills

I spent all of last week with people from Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, and many other regions of the world.  Each one was a world traveler, film maker, and an amazing creative mind that completely blew away my artistic skill set.

To be perfectly honest, I was at first intimated to be in their presence.  I have pretty much spent my entire life in Southern California, while my new friends had traveled to all 5 continents and even studied with Shaolin Masters in China.

I wanted to live their lives; I wanted to be them.

I began to imagine myself as a world traveler. I probed the minds of my friends and wrote down notes about where to stay in certain countries.  I google searched English teaching programs abroad and even calculated the amount of income I would need to comfortably travel from country to country.

Before I could get carried away in my thinking process, my friends began to ask me about my startup experience.  They asked me how to start a company, how to incorporate it, and how to build a team.  They told me how lucky I was to make a solid salary and not have to worry about attempting to live off of $12,000 a year.  They told me how lucky I was to have a supportive family and girlfriend that have helped me on my journey as an entrepreneur.

They wanted to live my life; they wanted to be me.

Wanting what others have is a disease that can consume your entire life if you don’t cure it.  I’ve had this disease through a majority of my life, and last week I felt the symptoms acting up again.

But then, your comments on my previous blog post made me realize that one can always long for more; however, it is the appreciation of what you currently have that will lead to happiness.

I used to believe that accepting happiness with your current state of being meant settling for something short of your dreams.  But I was wrong.  I now realize that loving your present self is the highest form of happiness and acceptance.

How I learned to love my present self

1. I wrote a blog post about my insecurities and fears

This helped me cleanse myself of my bottled up frustration.  When I write, I’m able to pour my feelings out to the world and become vulnerable.  Though this may sound scary, it’s one of the best ways to realize that you’re not alone in the world and that there are many people who are going through the same things that you are going through.

2. I read your insightful, well thought out comments

A sincere thank you to all of your great comments.  You made me realize that the grass really is greener on the other side and that I have to focus on what I HAVE rather than on what I wish I had.

3. I spent a week with a group of amazing people from all around the world

The principle behind this is change.  I was in a new city with a group of completely new people for a week, which provided the perfect environment for me to reevaluate my life.  When you get away from the routine, you’re able to look at your life from a third person perspective and focus on the things in life that make you happy.

I didn’t go through any fancy meditation techniques, nor did I read any self-help blogs or books.  My realization came from my willingness to expose myself to the world and receive feedback from the people I respect the most.  You don’t have to do it through a blog post like I did; instead, you can have a heart-to-heart with a best friend, mentor, or teacher.

Are you happy RIGHT NOW?  If not, what’s holding you back?

Photo by Barbara

About the author

Jun Loayza Jun Loayza is the President of Ecommerce Rules. In his entrepreneurial experience, Jun has sold 2 internet companies, raised over $1,000,000 in Angel funding, and lead social media technology campaigns for Sephora, Whole Foods Market, Levi's, LG, and Activision. Find Jun on Google or Twitter

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  • David C

    I find that at times, I wish that I were living my friends’ lives. I want to get away from the stress of studying for graduate school and finding ways to pay the rent every month. Freelancing is hard, and I often find myself wanting that easy desk job.

    Thanks for reminding me that I need to focus on my current happiness, and not some future goal that will bring me happiness. I’m I’m not happy now, I will never be satisfied even if I achieve my future goals.

  • Allan

    I have a different perspective Jun. You see, I think that you CAN be happy now, but if you stop wanting more, it’s like you’re settling.

    For example, I could be happy with my current job and comfortable salary, but I’m not, and it’s what keeps me moving forward. If I were to simply settle right now, then I would not be pushing to start my own company and leave the 9-5 grind.

    I don’t hate my life; I just don’t allow myself to be 100% happy. It is stressful, but it’s the only way I know how to keep pushing myself forward

  • http://www.owlsparks.com/ Carlos Miceli

    I think this is vey simple. If you can’t find the good in your lfie, right now, you won’t find it in anything else. Appreciation is a KEY element of happiness.

    That being said, I hate settling and not changing. I think change is a part of life, because appreciating what you have does not mean you shouldn’t give it up at some point. Life is about growing, and I have found that while appreciation brings happiness, growth brings more.

    • http://junloayza.com JunLoayza

      I can’t find the difference between settling and just being happy with the NOW. The comment on your blog you left me says that there is no happy medium… can this be true?

      Sure, I always long for more, but is that really healthy? If I travel the entire world and live location independently, will I then finally be happy?

      Only one way to find out

      • http://lifeisbutastage.wordpress.com Robert

        The difference between settling and being happy with the now is the result of a particular mindset. If you look outside of yourself for happiness you’ll always be on an emotional roller coaster. You can accept YOURSELF as you are right now, but grow EXTERNALLY.

        It helps to remember that our identity never changes. At our core, we never change. Our core is composed of our basic morals and values, our truths,our message. For example, I don’t know you personally, but I’d say you’re caring, fun-loving, growth-oriented, and you want to contribute and make a BIG difference in this world. Your message to the world (or what I get from this website) is, “you can live your dreams. If I can do it you can do it too.”This is you at your core (this is just an assumption, probably not accurate), and defines everything that you do. You express this through you being an entrepreneur and through this blog. Perhaps, at times we may rearrange or adopt new principles, but just by having principles is priceless. You not only want to make a dfference in this world, but you are out there doing something about it, you are a living difference. I think the author of Zenhabits wrote something similar recently. Everything we do is an expression of our values.

        In this you can accept yourself. I don’t know about you but I pride myself on my values and character. I think values are much harder to maintain and uphold and therefore more reputable. When I’m living my values, I’m always happy. It’s the same way a soldier is able to die happy:they’re happy because they keep their integrity, dying for something they believe in, their values, regardless of how the battle turns out.

        Now as far as growth is concerned, you can grow in your position, your skills, your experiences, health, money, etc. But why identify with something outside yourself, and something so vulnerable to change, setbacks and so unstable? When you identify with things outside of yourself like position, experiences and etc. it’s easy to fall into the conflict of self-acceptance vs. growth. Which is why you can always be happy, but as Carlos and John stated you’ve got to look inside. Stephen Covey talked about this in his classic “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and Steve Pavlina wrote a blog discussing this exact topic, so I’m not suggesting anything new.

        I love what you and Yu-kai Chou are doing. I read your blog and think, the path of an entrepreneur and that of an actor are not too different. You two are doing what you want to do, being innovative,making a contribution while also inspiring through your blogs. That doesn’t seem like an easy path, which, in my book, makes it all the more honorable.

        It’s fun to grow, it’s challenging, it’s part of life, but never a prerequisite for happiness.

  • http://exilelifestyle.com Colin Wright

    I tend to look at this issue with slightly different semantics. For me, to be so happy at the moment that you stop pursuing happiness is ‘contentment,’ while the happiness you get while pursuing more happiness is straight-up ‘happiness.’

    They are very similar, and can feel the same when you are experiencing them, but I find that most of my friends that are content don’t stay that way for long, but by the time they realize the good stuff is gone, they’re stuck and have difficulty getting enough momentum going so that they can start pursuing happiness again.

    Really good post! I, too, gain a whole lot of insight from my readers and we as bloggers are very fortunate to be allowed to pontificate and listen to such amazing people in equal measures!

    • http://junloayza.com JunLoayza

      So the key is to be happy while chasing happiness?

      If that’s the case, will we ever get there? Like, can I just look at myself in the mirror one day and say, “I’m satisfied…”

      I would love to wake up, drink some tea, read some blogs, and chill on the beach with my girlfriend.

      That would be true happiness for me

  • http://www.rockstarlifestyledesign.com Greg Rollett

    Hey Jun,

    I feel like you do all the time and I think we have similarities that we want to be everything to everyone. I know that I want to save the world, help musicians, work with Gen-Y’s, have family time, be a crappy surfer, travel the world, yadda, yadda. It is this drive that makes people like us tick. I am the happiest in the pursuit. The pursuit of living my life 100% at all times. I win, I fail, I learn. But at the end of the day, I put it all on the line.

    You have those qualities too and no matter what you do, when you give that 100%+ into everything you do, and when you actually care about the action at hand, well then you win. You win with yourself.

    BTW – that weekend sounded awesome. Keep rockin dude.

    • http://junloayza.com JunLoayza

      “We are happy because of the pursuit”

      To be honest man, the stress can get to me. But I hear what you’re saying.

      It may just be me, but if I could wake up every morning, read my friends’ blogs, write a post, and spend all day at the beach with my girlfriend, I think that I would be very happy with my life.

      Does that make me sound like a bum? Do we all have to be heroes or legendary?

      I have the drive to work every minute of every day, but I’ve slowly come to realize that it may be false enjoyment.

      Either way, I’m there in the trenches with you brother

      • http://yukaichou.com Yu-kai Chou

        I enjoyed the post, and thought it to be very insightful.

        For me, as long as I chose my path myself, I’m always happy when I’m on the path, even when the path is bumpy and uncomfortable. Getting to the destination is highest joy of all, but not getting there shouldn’t be a torture. If you have a road trip with friends, would you say that you are sad when driving and never certain if you are happy when you get to the destination? No, you enjoy the driving, and you would be even happier when you get to where you want to go.

        Btw, I think if you really woke up everyday, read blogposts, write a post, and spend all day on the beach, you will have a “burn-out” in a few months and need to start doing stuff again :)

        I have the same prediction for A Warner, who is now living that life in Argentina with his newly wed wife :D

      • http://junloayza.com JunLoayza

        Oh yea?

        I need to hit up Andrew to see how he likes it.

        I think you’re right Mr. Chou. In that case, Tim Ferriss is the person who has got it right. Take mini vacations every 3 months. In this way, you never burnt out from working or from taking vacations.

        What do you think? Is a Viralogy vacation in order?

      • http://www.rockstarlifestyledesign.com Greg Rollett

        We don’t all need to be heroes or legends.

        If all of us were heroes, then a hero wouldn’t mean jack squat. Being young and burnt out sucks. Leverage and time management need to play a part. Trust me, I’d love to grab a 2 bed condo on New Smyrna Beach and surf, drink beers and hang with my wife, but how long can I do that for?

        As an entrepreneur, the chase is everything. Our ideas are the reason why we are crazy, don’t sleep and put aside things. We all need to relax, chill and have those getaways, but man the fire is in your eyes and I can’t see you sitting in a beach for more than a week before your next idea comes and you are on the chase again.

        I hope you don’t prove me wrong either!

  • http://www.nerdynomad.com Kirsty

    I think a lot of people think that if they move to a new city, or if they get a new job, or more money in the bank or go travelling or … ? they will be happy. If a person isn’t happy with what they have now, these types of things won’t suddenly make them a happier person. Maybe for a few moments or a few months but not forever. Eventually something else will pop up that they feel like they’ll need to be truly happy.

    I like Colin’s comments about contentment vs happiness and I agree with the idea. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being content… I don’t think being content is the same as settling.

  • http://www.twitter.com/NomadRip James NomadRip

    You’ve heard of concepts in pretty much any sector of human existence like Yin/Yang, light/dark, positive/negative, and expressions like “the grass is always greener on the other side”, “every rose has a thorn”, etc. Those are expressions for a reason!

    There really is good and bad in every situation. It comes down to your perspective or the way you look at any given scenario. Sometimes you have to dig deeper to find the good aspect, and it may not bear the same weight as the bad, but it is there.

    Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so…or something like that :-)

    • http://junloayza.com JunLoayza

      A wise man once said:

      “You cannot fully appreciate the happy without the sad”

      That wise man was me… hahaha, j/k

      Without the bad, you can’t have the good. It’s just the nature of life.

  • http://blog.monicaobrien.com Monica O’Brien

    Love it. Every time I get off track I leave the city, even if it’s just to spend a weekend at my parents house. It helps me re-center.

    I love your writing habits too.

    • http://junloayza.com JunLoayza

      I think the next time I need to get away I’ll go visit you in Chi-town

  • http://www.shannonsevans.com Shannon

    Interestingly enough. I live in these two worlds and it’s a constant challenge to balance the two. I love traveling, but I love being an entrepreneur. There isn’t any reason that they can’t both work.

    • http://junloayza.com JunLoayza

      Yup, no reason they can’t both work, especially if your startup allows you to work anywhere in the world.

      What startup do you have?

  • http://www.epicself.com Amber

    I think you nailed it on the head Jun. It’s about gaining perspective and realizing that nothing is holding you back from happiness but your own thoughts and attitude. Sure you can achieve these all through meditation and mindfulness, but like I have found through my travels gathering perspective is vital. You always want what you don’t have. World travelers want security, you want freedom and movement. I think you can always find a balance…at least that’s what I am working on at the moment. But like Colin mentioned above, part of happiness comes in the pursuit and excitement of evolving. Stagnating and being content is not a bad thing if that is what makes you happy. For some stagnation is not an option :D. Great thoughts!

    • http://junloayza.com JunLoayza

      I think that’s what I’m starting to realize: happiness is a choice.

      I woke up today and chose to site at my laptop, read some blogs, do some work, and later today I will take my girlfriend to disneyland.

      I can choose to either be mad at disneyland because I have so much work to do at home, or I can choose to enjoy the moment.

      I think I’ll choose to be happy

  • http://www.happylifementoring.com Jacqueline Johns – Your Happy Life Mentor

    Being happy with what you have doesn’t preclude setting and achieving goals. Striving and achieving also increases happiness – as long as you don’t disallow yourself from being happy until the goal is achieved. Choose to be happy now, while you are setting and achieving goals. Find the good in every moment of your life – it is there whether you are aware of it or not. Be present in every moment and appreciate the beauty life has to offer – while still striving to be the best you can be.

    Live Life Happy!

    • http://junloayza.com JunLoayza

      I will carry a smile with me everywhere I go.

      Do you think happiness is contagious?

  • http://jetsetcitizen.com/ John Bardos – JetSetCitizen

    Jun, Where did you get those happy pills? I have been looking for some of those. :-)

    It would also be nice to have a pill to learn foreign languages and master a musical instrument. Unfortunately, a great life is not measured by how easy and convenient it is.

    I am with Carlos here, you need to look inside to make your current work enjoyable. There is good in every situation. If your work is boring, use the time for introspection. If your work is overly physical, celebrate the strengthening of your body. If you have a lousy boss, use it as a test for your compassion and self-control. Look at the deprivation someone like Viktor Frankl endured and how strong it made him as a person.

    Looking to some future event or situation to bring you happiness is a recipe for depression. Celebrate the now! If you do decide to seek out new experiences, make it a forward advancement not an escape from the past.

    • http://junloayza.com JunLoayza

      Wow, I’m going to use your comment as a quote for life bro…

      … ok, it’s up on Twitter now.

      You got some amazing insight on life. We’re working on a project right now that I think Cody has spoken to you about. Lets chat soon

  • http://lifeexcursion.com/ Dave – LifeExcursion

    I agree with your thinking. I always strive for more fulfillment and sometimes that can be a bad thing, but more than less it is a good thing. I love trying to get everything out of life and decision making can be a tough balance.

    Here is my latest similar experience:

    I always wanted to move to Australia. I finally decided it was time to stop saying One Day and just do it. I quit my secure job making good money with great benefits and moved to Australia. After 2 months I knew that what I really wanted was to move to San Diego and train all the time. My buddy, who was financially and career wise, was in the same situation as me prior to my departure for Aussie. Instead of doing like me, he bought a house and really did some smart financial decisions. When he came to visit me in Aussie, I told him I was jealous of what he had done while I was away and that I could have done the same if I hadn’t gone to Aussie. He made a great point though saying that I would have always had this inkling in my head of ‘What If’ and getting that out was what I needed to do. I will never regret moving to Aussie (now back stateside) and after a lot of thought, moving to Aussie was necessary for me moving forward.

    I don’t think I settled for less because I was achieving minor true happiness. Sometimes it doesn’t end up being what we thought would be true happiness, but it does end up being the thing we had to experience to know what we truly wanted.

    Dave Damron
    LifeExcursion & The Minimalist Path

    • http://junloayza.com JunLoayza

      Great story.

      Perhaps that will happen to me as well. I’ll move to Spain for a few months and I’ll get tired of it. I’ll then move to Japan, Thailand, and South Africa until I find the place for me.

      Maybe one day I’ll realize that where I belong is in SoCal where the beaches are dirty and the women are expensive :P

      Looking forward to chatting more

  • http://www.ektasshah.com ekta

    Juan, I luve this blog. Very sweet and insightful. It conveys great message in
    an amazing way. Keep going!!!

  • http://wheresfeldo.com Feldo

    Hey Jun,
    I like you, have a tendency to compare myself with other friends. Currently I work with good friends that are making a lot of money in affiliate marketing and I get a little frustrated myself asking why am I not being successful like them. Why can I be financially free so that I can travel the world and get out of some credit card debt that I have. It’s funny that I had this same talk with my friend last night.

    We came down to the conclusion that the amount of time I stress and devalue myself of why am I not as good as a marketer as others. Is the amount of time I can focus on continuing to work and be a better marketer. I came to the conclusion that you will get to your goals as long as you are focused, it’s only a matter of time. Just enjoy the process and enjoy what you are doing and things will fall into place. I say these things not to preach you, but more to solidify the mentality that I should be carrying out now.

    I admire how honest your post is and I just want to say that you are not alone. At the end of the day you are in a great place with your company and blog. I think at the end of the day keep focusing of what you have to do in your own thing and again things will fall into place.

    Looking forward to your future posts as always!

    Feldo

  • http://www.anthonyliang.com Anthony Liang

    I believe true happiness is enjoying the journey. Everyone experiences opportunity cost in anything they do, but what matters is that they are happy in the end. People are always intrigued by other people’s journeys, but there is no reason to be unhappy because of it. There will always be those “I wish I could have done that” type of moments, but if you really take a step back and assess everything, I think you will realize it is nothing to get down about.

  • http://www.twitter.com/sanditak SanditaK

    Jun-
    The feelings are mutual. To be honest, the one thing that allows me to be happy in the now is my firm belief in that every footfall happens for a reason. I know that my step forwards and my missteps all occur for a greater purpose….what that is I do not know. Yet realizing that most things happen for a reason has allowed me to forge forward and not fear making a mistake as I know I will learn from it. Not worrying about the future or trying to change the past has indeed allowed me to be happy in the present. Do I still fumble sometimes and feel down? Absolutely. It’s only natural to feel ups and downs, these emotions are what drive us and make us human. Feeling is what gets me up and ready to go every day, no matter how crappy the day before was. Each experience is something to learn from, the pretty and the beastly. Embrace them all!

    Can’t wait to catch up this week. You are missed.

    Sandy

  • http://www.kidprentice.com Christine

    Good stuff, Jun. I plan the future that will make me happy, then live and look forward to it. I notice that who I am in the ‘present’ time is then very, very happy, effective, motivated.

    For example, if you’re leaving to Thailand for this weekend, you’d be beyond happy right now. It’s like being in love. Puts a spring in your step and makes you spruce yourself up when you know you’re going to see that person.

    AND it’s because I want to feel joy and satisfaction that I plan these mini or huge events. If I’m in a funky, low place, I’m likely not to plan a ‘happiness’ event – it wouldn’t be a match for what I was feeling at that time. The funky, lowness would follow me no matter where I went anyway. I think you’ve discovered a great solution to that – share yourself with everyone and hear what others have to say and contribute. Some of us call it ‘cleaning out our closets’.

  • http://analyticasystemsinc.com/blog/ John R. Sedivy

    You seem to have discovered the key to happiness – loving your present self and situation. It’s always tempting to want what others have, however what most people miss is that no life or situation is problem free, there will always be challenges. I first came across this principle in Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now – a good book to read if you haven’t done so already.

    Personally I think that entrepreneurship is a great way to make this discovery. Entrepreneurs are forced to do quite a bit of self reflection during the course of their journey and many look back fondly on the early, challenging days of their journey – times that seemed unbearable in the moment but were in fact character building and defining moments. Furthermore, the entrepreneur has the unique vantage point of seeing their business grow, and with it the challenges that must be overcome.

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