When attention to detail is bad

Most of us were taught to look out for our own happiness. We were socialized—to some degree—to think about WHAT will make us happy, HOW to get it and WHEN it will happen.

I’m all for taking responsibility for your own feel good. Excellent idea.


…while its fun and even smart to give some thought to the WHAT, HOW, and WHEN of our happiness, constantly tinkering around at that level of detail isn’t always good.

I’m trying to stay away from numbered lists in my posts but there are 3 big reasons detail isn’t always good. So I’m just gonna number them.

1. Because it turns into a habit of worrying about the specifics. When we worry about the specifics, we start setting up conditions for our happiness. Conditions we can’t control.

Conditions like you’ll be happy when you get married. Or when you get divorced, or lose 5 pounds, or have a baby, or finally get the perfect cut and color. These things aren’t under your complete control so you’re kind of screwed when your happiness hinges on them.

2. Focusing on the WHAT, HOW, and WHEN tricks us into believing circumstances can make us happy. But circumstances don’t make us happy; our thoughts about them do. When we’re constantly chasing circumstances and expecting them to produce feelings in us, we’re screwed. Again.

3. And, sometimes we’re wrong. We swear we’d be happy with the promotion and that our house really need to sell in June instead of September, but we’re actually not all that great at estimating what will make us happiest.

If I was always right about what would make me happy I would have had 4 kids with my high school boyfriend and I’d be a vegetarian Supreme Court judge. None of those sound even remotely pleasant today. This is why young people should put off making life-altering decisions as long as possible.

So if you’re not supposed to spend so much time arranging details, what should you do?

The best place you can be is simply wanting to be happy without concern for how you get you there.

Not caring HOW you’re happy, just THAT you’re happy.

That means instead of prayers or voodoo to make your troubled relationship work, you hand the details over to the Universe with the simple request you get to be happy.

Sometimes that means he stops his crap and you live happily ever after. Sometimes that means the relationship ends. We’re talking about you being okay with either path as long as it’s ultimately what’s best for you.

This is hard.

And although it’s hard, it’s also very logical. Behind every specific wish is the very general wish to be happy. Skip the middle man. Go for the happy.

Related Posts:

Signs from the Universe

Ask and you shall receive

What if everything is perfect?

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