124. Stop Chasing Happy

In this episode, we explore why we should stop chasing happiness. I received an email from a missionary mom, who expressed concern about her son. Her son believed happiness was always in the future, even when he could potentially be feeling it in the present. This prompted me to dive deeper into the concept of happiness. What it actually is? How to obtain it? and What prevents us from recognizing when we are happy?

We discuss idea that we as humans don’t want to just be half happy or half frustrated. We want to experience a full range of emotions. Our desire for happiness stems from our innate need to feel all emotions. And happiness is not something that can be chased or obtained externally. Instead, happiness is an emotion that is created within our bodies and can only be experienced in the present moment.

Happiness is an emotion felt in the body. It can be experienced by getting out of our heads and into our bodies. Through this process, one can discover the physical sensations associated with happiness, such as warmth or a specific color. Happiness cannot be given or received from others, as it is an individual experience.

In this episode we also touch on the obstacles that prevent us from accessing or noticing happiness. These include viewing happiness as a destination or future event. Chasing happiness through external circumstances, and not allowing ourselves to be happy when others are not. The importance of learning how to love oneself and others even when happiness is not present.

Overall, we aim to shift the perspective on happiness and to stop chasing it as an external goal. Instead, the focus on being present. Embracing and experiencing the full range of emotions, we learn to love ourselves and others through all of life’s ups and downs. Stop chasing happiness, it’s felt within our bodies.

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0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone is Jennie Dildine, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 124. Stop chasing happy.

0:14 I’m Jenny, the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next.

0:53 Hey, everybody, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for hanging out with me today. Today is Halloween. I am actually recording this a few days early. So I can get it to my assistant to be published today, which would be Friday by the time this comes out. But today’s Halloween. So actually, if I’m being quite honest, not my favorite holiday. I know many of you get way into holidays, like Halloween and do all the things and lots of traditions, but not my favorite holiday, but also fun. We’re gonna go downtown, which will be fun. They’ve got this street with all these really old homes. We’ve never done it before. And I’ve been told that it’s gonna be a madhouse down there, crazy town. So, but my daughter who will be graduating next year was like, Can we please go do that? And I was like, Sure, let’s do it. Since you only have two more Halloweens at home, this one and then the next one, which is crazy. So hope you guys have a great fun Halloween Week. And I just can’t believe we’re headed into the holidays so quickly. Like what is happening, time just keeps going doesn’t have friends. So keep on keepin on.

2:11 Today, we’re actually going to talk about happy. And as is usually the case, when I decide that I’m going to record a podcast about something it’s like, the whole world and people and experiences start giving me like ideas and messages about what I need to say and what maybe you would want to hear and, and even stuff that I can learn for myself. So I’m going to share much of that with you today. I think sort of the catalysts for this particular episode came because I received an email from a mom who, whose missionary is out serving right now. And this missionary mom said to me that, my son is always waiting for the next thing in his life to find happiness. And she said happiness is always in the future, even though he could maybe even be feeling it right now. So she kind of went on to describe like how he was in this particular instance, and wasn’t happy. And he’d said, well, I’ll just be happy when and then was in another particular instance. And then that thing happened, and then wasn’t another particular instance, and had told her like, I’ll just be happy when you know And it can sound like a lot of things for all of us, it can sound like, what comes to mind for me right now is I’ll be happy when the fall and winter are over. Okay? Or I’ll be happy when we go on this vacation. Maybe for you, it sounds like I’ll be happy when this transfer is over. I’ll be happy when I learn the language. I’ll be happy when I am married. It could be anything and I’m guessing many of you have this sentence in your mind a lot. I’ll be happy when. And so it just got me thinking a lot about happiness. Why we want it what it actually is, how do we get it? Is it even get-able and, and what prevents us from noticing when we are happy.

4:20 So we’re gonna kind of just dive into that today. And it could kind of be all over the place, because like I said, it’s sort of like, I just, I was like, Oh, I gotta put that in the podcast, and I gotta put that in the podcast and we’re gonna dive all into stop chasing, happy. So let’s ask this. What is happiness? Anyway? I think and I’m sure there’s a lot of ways a lot of other ways that you want to think about happiness, but I tend to think of happiness as an emotion. Okay, and what we talk about on this podcast and all of the things that I teach that an emotion is simply a vibration in your body. So there’s a little synapse that connects in your brain when you have a thought. And that thought connects, and then that thought sends chemicals, hormones, vibrations through your body. And happiness is something you actually feel in your body.

5:20 So one of the things that we teach our clients to do, and that I’ve really been working on is just learning how to actually feel my feelings. As a side note, I feel like I’ve told many people this, maybe I’ve never said it here, but I do have a son on the autism spectrum. And when he was young, and having a lot of tantrums and things like that. Much later in life, than let’s say most kids would have tantrums, maybe even up into middle school and things like that. I think I actually completely lost the ability to feel, it was almost like I had to completely shut down emotionally in order to just survive. So if you’re not practiced at feeling your feelings, it might sound a little bit weird, or you might not even understand what I’m talking about. But we can just try it and little doses, and sometimes it’s the most fun to practice feeling emotions that feel a little bit better. Now, you know, on here that I never say there’s good feelings and bad feelings. They’re just feelings that feel better in our bodies, and feelings that don’t feel as good in our bodies, but they’re all okay, all totally fine to feel all part of the human experience.

6:30 So happiness actually tends to be one of the feelings that feels good to feel in your body. And what we do in my program, and with my clients, and what you can start trying is the way to truly experience happiness is to get out of your head and into your body, and then figure out what it actually feels like to feel happy. And what you’ll discover is there are kind of that movement, or chemicals or sensations that you can feel inside your body. So as I’ve done this with clients over the years, I feel like most often people describe happiness as yellow. And just as a quick reminder, it’s not what we would observe someone doing on the outside, when they’re happy, that’s not actually feeling an emotion. What it is, is pretend like you’re a magic school bus and you go down your throat and into your chest cavity, or wherever you’re feeling happiness. And you’re like, oh, what’s actually going on here? And many times it’s yellow, or people will say it’s sun beams, like beaming out of my heart, I’ve had people describe it as hot pink, or warm, or like pink and yellow confetti. For me, interestingly, when I think about happiness, and I go and out of my head and into my body, I do feel some warmness in my chest, I would, we’d probably go in there. And it would probably be like a yellow or light blue cloud or something like that. But then in my head, I also can picture inside there, it looks like clear glass, almost like a really smooth pond. Okay, so happiness is just like any other feeling, which is just something that we feel inside our bodies.

8:12 Now notice how we can’t give happiness to someone, and someone can’t give us happiness, because it is something that occurs within our own bodies. So let’s talk about some of the things that get in the way of us accessing or even perhaps noticing that feeling that confetti, that yellow, that hot pink, inside your body.

8:36 Okay, let’s talk about some of those things. So this is not an exhaustive list. But it’s some of the things that I sort of noticed as I talk to clients and stuff. And in conversations with people that perhaps get in the way of us feeling the way that we want to feel. The first thing is that we think happiness is a destination. So think of it like maybe we’re running a race, and we think at the end of the race, then I’ll be happy. That is the thing that I’m working towards in the future. And so that can get in the way of us noticing the happiness that we have right now.

9:15 The other thing that can get in the way is we chase it, we chase happiness, as in this email that I received from this mom, I’ll be happy when… as if the thing itself, the wedding, finishing your mission, the next companion, the next mission president, the next baptism, or whatever, or the next date, or the next holiday has the ability to give you happiness. But what we learn here is that those things never have the ability to give you happiness, that happiness is always going to be created with thoughts that you think.

9:51 Now I think it’s valid to mention that sometimes there’s opportunities where we get to do stuff and there’s things that we enjoy doing that that are going to allow us to more easily think the thoughts that we want to think and feel the way that we want to feel, maybe even happy. But it really is those thoughts that create that happiness. I think always my favorite example of this is Disneyland, or Disney World like the happiest place on earth, but you’re not actually happy there the whole time. Sometimes you’re hungry, sometimes you’re irritated, sometimes your feet hurt. But depending on what you’re thinking is going to create those emotions, not Disneyland itself.

10:35 Another reason or another thing that might get in the way of us feeling happy is that we don’t allow ourselves to be happy, so long as others aren’t happy. And I see this a lot, maybe with missionary moms, or even like your companion, that might be going through a tough patch, or they’re feeling really homesick or anxious or whatever it is that we don’t allow ourselves to feel the way we want to feel because someone else is feeling the way that they feel. So I did a whole podcast about this. It’s called mirroring, if you want to go check it out. But it’s this idea that our brains sort of think that if we’re mirroring someone’s emotion, like if we’re sad about their sadness, or if we’re anxious about their anxiety, that that is the way to connect us. But it’s not necessarily the way to connect us our brain thinks that it is. Instead, we can usually show up more powerfully if you know our companions feeling anxious if we show up with love, or if our companions feeling sad, if we show up with compassion, right, instead of just mirroring that fear, or mirroring that emotion. I actually had a woman say to me, this week, I’m going to be an empty nester and empty nest means empty heart. And I was like, Why? Why would you think that it’s not the nest, it’s not your kids being gone, that makes you sad. It’s you get to choose how you want to think about this on purpose, and you can be happy and full of love and compassion. And instead of being sad that your kids are sad or struggling because your kids are struggling or your companion or your friends or your spouse.

12:22 Another thing that could maybe get in the way of us feeling the way that we want to feel is thinking that we should be happier than we are okay. And this kind of sounds like this, I should be happier. Or I just want my kids to be happier, or, can’t we all just be happy. Something like that. Okay. And ironically, is when we think we should be happier than we are we introduce this resistance, we introduce other emotions, like frustration that actually take away happiness, right? Let’s say we had, the only image that comes to mind is like a beaker and chemistry class, okay? And our happiness comes up halfway. And we’re just like, that’s not enough happy. And so then what we do is we feel the rest of the beaker with frustration that we’re not happy, okay? Whereas we could just be like, Oh, my gosh, I’m so glad that I’m half happy. Because that’s what’s true, guys, is we’re always going to have half and half, and it’s all good. So maybe try not thinking that I should be happier than I am. You should maybe be just as happy as you are right now. Okay, here’s another thing I want us to kind of consider is if your beaker is always constantly just full of happiness, that’s boring. Maybe you guys know people like this that are like, toxically happy. And it’s just hard to be around them. Like you want to be like, no, just be real, like, just be human with me. And I think it is fun to be around people like that sometimes to like, they can be happy and it’s great. And, and maybe some of that happiness, to help us be like, oh, yeah, I didn’t think about it that way. Maybe I want to think about it that way too. And then start feeling happy. But I think that just that emotion alone is boring. What we actually want as humans is to feel all of the emotions it is what gives life flavor. It’s what gives life meaning. It’s what helps us grow and change and progress. It’s what gives us empathy for other people. It is actually one of the things that connects us to other people is when we can relate to them on all of the emotions.

14:43 Okay, so another thing that might get in the way of us maybe feeling happy is that we get into a habit of thinking thoughts that make us sad. So I think this is something I actually want to kind of be onto myself a little bit more because sometimes I I do get in a little bit of a habit like, I don’t like the weather or the weather is hard or my business is hard, or this is hard, or I don’t like this. And one of the things that happens in your brain too, is we get kind of a well worn path there. And it’s easier for our brain to stay on that well worn path. So maybe just observe yourself like notice if you’re in a pattern of thinking thoughts that create not awesome feelings. And if you are just noticed that that that goes a really long way. And also, maybe we can just even the playing field a little bit more, you know, this test could go terribly wrong. And it could also go wonderfully well, and just kind of start to balance that a little bit.

15:40 Another thing that can get in the way of us feeling happy is that we don’t understand what happiness is, okay? We don’t understand that it’s an emotion, we think it’s something that we can get from people or from our circumstances. And the other thing we don’t understand is that the only way for us to experience happiness is if it’s balanced with sadness, it’s kind of crazy, you guys, if we only ever swam in a fishbowl of happiness, we wouldn’t know we weren’t happy. You have to have the contrast, you have to have the balance of both emotions.

16:15 Another thing that might get in the way of us feeling happy is that we have a small emotional vocabulary. So if you think about most of the time, we’re like, I’m either happy or I’m sad. And that’s about all we know how to say. It’s like toddlers, I’m happy, I’m mad. I’m sad. That’s all we know how to say. So maybe consider like some nuance of emotion, what is even happiness, and maybe we don’t want to be happy, maybe we want to be content, maybe we want to have compassion. Maybe we want love. Maybe we want excitement. Maybe we want motivation, and not just happiness. So even you can google an emotional chart with all of the different emotions on it. And that’s one of the things we give people in my program is a chart or a list of so many emotions. There’s not just three, there’s so many that actually we just put under the category of happy. So maybe try instead of like, I haven’t felt happy in a while. Just question that. Okay, well, have you felt content? Have you felt peace? Have you felt calm? Have you felt motivated? Have you felt excited? There’s not just three emotions.

17:31 Okay, here’s the big one, one of the things that might get in the way of us feeling happy is we’re never present enough to experience it. I think this is actually true. That’s kind of what this mom was saying that happiness is always in the future, even though he’s feeling it right now. We never take a step back, and be like, Okay, I feel happy. We don’t let that happiness land, we’re always like, on to the next on to the next. Our brain loves to ping pong, back and forth, and back and forth to the past. Maybe like when you’re on your mission, and to the future, like when am I going to be married, or let’s say you’re on the mission, your brain ping bonds to the past, when you weren’t on your mission, and to the future is when you’re going to be back from your mission. Okay, our brain loves to ping pong, because it’s problem solving machine. So it’s always like looking to the future to figure out what’s next, and how to prevent pain and all that kind of stuff, which is fine. But that means that we have to intentionally on purpose, go to the present moment, if we’re going to feel, especially if we want to feel happy, we have to look for it, we have to intentionally feel it in our bodies and get really present with it.

18:46 Another thing, I think this is the last thing, is that might be in the way of you feeling happiness, is maybe you’re giving your happiness to something or someone outside of you. Okay, so maybe you’re waiting to feel validated or accepted or happy until your companion gives you permission to do that. Or maybe you’re waiting until the person you’re dating is like, Yep, you’re good to go. You can go ahead and feel happy. And they don’t say it explicitly. That’s not what I’m saying. But we wait for other people to give us approval and allow us sort of, to believe what we want to believe about ourselves. We give that ownership to someone else, but you guys, you can feel happy whenever you want to. You can and it might just be in slow, small doses. So don’t chase it. It’s here right now if you want it, okay. So no one can make you feel anything including happiness. Nothing outside of you can prevent you from accessing happiness. For sure. Don’t misunderstand me if you’re in a challenging situation if you’re in Having health problems or if your companion is not very nice to you, or if you’re in a conflict with your parents, or whatever it is, of course, it can make it more challenging to think the thoughts that you want to think and feel the way you want to feel. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t.

20:18 One other thing is, I did talk to a missionary one time who was like, I don’t think I deserve to be happy. And I was like, what? That doesn’t even make sense. That’s not what I said. But you guys, you have a body that our Heavenly Parents gave you. And just that alone means that you deserve to be happy. That’s it. Because you have thoughts that create that emotion in your body, and you deserve it, because they gave you that body as a gift. So you could experience happiness and sadness, and calm and irritation and all of that think that that is what it means to be human. And if you have a human body, you deserve to feel happy. Okay, so stop chasing, happy. Here’s the thing, it’s not the thing that we really want. Anyway, I know we get confused about this, because we have like scriptures that tell us. And we lived after the manner of happiness. And we have songs that tell us, don’t worry, be happy. And sometimes I think we even erroneously equate happiness with the Spirit. But happiness is not the spirit. If this was true, I was thinking about this. If this was true, when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he was feeling every emotion that he could possibly feel, then the Spirit couldn’t have been present if he wasn’t happy. But it was remembered like an angel we’ve learned came and ministered to him when he was feeling sad, and lonely, and discouraged and dejected, and full of grief, all of those things that he felt.

22:00 So I know for me, I don’t know if I’ve shared this story on the podcast before but so my daughter who is the one that’s the junior that wants to go see the houses downtown tonight, she when she was born, had what’s called a cranial synostosis. And so basically, it’s a long story, but two of the plates in her skull were fused together when she was born. And so she had to have this gigantic surgery when she was six months old, just a tiny little thing, where they opened up her skin all the way across the top of her head, she ended up having 98 stitches, and like seven blood transfusions because she was so tiny. It was like an eight hour surgery. She’s doing right now there’s no repercussions from that whatsoever. But that night when she was in the intensive care after the surgery was likely one of the hardest moments of my life, the saddest, the loneliest, the most overwhelmed, the most scared, maybe that I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I wasn’t happy. But the spirit was there. The spirit was there to comfort me. So happiness does not equate the spirit. Let’s put that out there to everybody. Because I fear that this is sort of something that is becoming a pervasive belief throughout the missions. Right? I hear it all the time.

23:19 In fact, I was talking last night with my RM Mentors who I’m training for my new program, Mission Prep Plus, that starts on Monday, by the way, where we teach all of these concepts before you leave on the mission. One of them we were talking about how you have to have the balance of both emotions. And one of them said to me, Well, how do we teach these missionaries that they can be sad, it’s okay to be sad. But then when you go in to teach someone, you need to be happy. And I was like, why would we do that? If you’re having a bad day, and you’re feeling sad, you go into that lesson and you say, Listen, I’m having a hard day and I’m feeling sad. I know. It’s okay, though. Because Jesus, and I don’t want to be happy today. I want to be sad. Have you ever been sad? You know, what happens is it’s disconnecting when we pretend to be happy. And that’s what he said is like, don’t we need everyone around us to know that we’re happy? And I was like, no, what we what we need people around us to know is that we’re real, that we’re human. And we rely on our Savior, even when we’re sad. That because of him, it’s okay to be sad. And it’s okay to be real. Can you imagine how much more connecting a lesson would be if you were just real like that? And they would be like, Oh my gosh, yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve been there and they’d probably want to know well, how do you, how do you connect to your savior, even when you’re sad? Okay, we do a huge disservice to people if we’re not real about how we feel. And if we’re constantly pretending to be happy.

24:52 So that is a lot of stuff but all to sum it up. Stop chasing happy It’s not what we want. Anyway, what we really want as humans, is we want to live a full life. We don’t want that beaker just half happy, or half frustrated or half sad. We want a soup, like a stew, a chili. Since it’s full of all of the emotions, we want, all of them, I think even kind of our godlike characteristics, or godlike DNA wants to feel all of the feelings. So number one, stop chasing, chasing happy because it’s not chase-able. It’s something that you feel inside of you, it’s an emotion created in your body. Number two, stop chasing happy because it’s created, now. It’s created here and now. And it’s only experienced in the present moment. Number three, stop chasing happy because it’s not the thing we actually want. What we actually want is we want to know how to love ourselves more when we aren’t happy. And we want to know how to love other people more when they aren’t happy. And we all really just want to know that it’s okay to not be happy sometimes.

26:12 I was talking to my sister about this, this week. And she was like, well, we all say that we want to be like Jesus, right? And I’m like, Yeah, we do all say that. And she’s like, I’m pretty sure Jesus’s main goal was not to be happy. It was like, Okay, guys, I’m just here to be happy. That wasn’t his goal. His goal was to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that needed comfort and stand with people in their hurt. He wept when he found out that Lazarus had died. I might be wrong about that, but I’m pretty sure and he wanted to feel he wanted to deeply feel and we can to, Okay, that should be our goal is to how to love ourselves more when we feel deeply and how to love other people more when they feel deeply, Even when they’re prickly. Even when they’re irritated. Even when they’re frustrated. Not like yep, I’m only going to be around you when you’re happy. That’s not what Jesus did. That’s not who he was. So stop chasing happy. Okay, I love all of you so much. Thank you so much for being here and have an amazing week, we’ll talk to you next time.

27:28 Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can present a unique set of challenges. And many of those challenges you might not even see coming. So you’re gonna want a unique set of solutions. It’s easier than you think to overcome worry and anxiety, serve the successful mission you’ve always dreamed of, and navigate your post mission experience with confidence. That is why I created some amazing free goodies that I’m sharing in my show notes. Maybe you’ll want to grab the free training for preparing missionaries, my video course for RMS or maybe you and I should hop on a free strategy call. If you’re ready to take your preparedness to serve or your preparedness to come home to the next level. Then go grab one of those freebies. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you are involved in just now that Jenny the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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