There are three ways that people tend to pursue happiness in their lives:
1. Pleasure – Short-term, short-lived, and ultimately unsatisfying, and unrealizable. You can never have enough pleasure. The pursuit of happiness in the form of pleasure leads ultimately to addiction and self-destruction.
2. Passion – The next thrill or high. Living “in the zone”. Type-A driven-ness like that of Steve Jobs or the stereotypical stockbroker. Never able to rest or relax, those pursuing happiness through passion tend to burn themselves up and neglect those who love them. Just like pleasure, the search for an ever greater high is insatiable. It also leads to self destruction.
3. Purpose – pursuing your purpose, or mission, or calling in life is ultimately fulfilling. This is the only pursuit of happiness that is not self-focused. It is also the only one that does not ultimately lead to self-destruction.
Bottom line: Find your purpose/calling/mission in life. You know that it’s true when it is focused on what you can do for others rather than what you can do for yourself. Otherwise you’ll be on the road to self-destruction.