Have you ever made a pros and cons list? I’d venture a guess that everyone has at one point in their lives, but just in case I’ll explain the premise. Basically when faced with a difficult decision, you make a list where the positives, or pros, go in one column and the negatives, or cons, go in another. You compare the lists to help you make your decision.
Phew, I’m glad we cleared that up.
We make a lot of decisions in life. Sometimes they’re small things like what to eat for breakfast or what to wear that day. Other decisions are big. Should you end a relationship or move away or accept another job, those kinds of things. These bigger decisions are usually where you bring in the big guns, like a pros and cons list.
Recently I was making a somewhat big decision, the details of which aren’t super important. But I was laying out my pros and cons list and deciding things based on practicality, cost comparison, how much hassle it would cause me, and if the hassle was worth it. I was 20 bullet points deep before I realized I had left off the most important aspect of making a decision: my happiness.
Is this decision going to make me happier? If the answer is yes, that’s a good enough reason.
We talk ourselves out of being happy a lot. We tell ourselves our current situation will be fine. We make due with mediocre, because we don’t want the hassle of making something great. We sacrifice what we want because what we have is getting the job done.
I think we need to stop doing that right away.
I remember almost two years ago when I ended my most serious relationship. I was discussing my situation with an acquaintance who recommended a book to me. Disclaimer, I never read the book, but the title told me everything I needed to hear. It was called “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay” by Mira Kirshenbaum. And while that book title is referring to relationships, that phrase can relate to almost anything.
My current situation that I’m leaving, is it bad? No. Nothing is toxic, it’s not unhealthy, it’s just not great. It’s too good to leave, too bad to stay. But the problem with living a “too good to leave, too bad to stay” life, is you’re actively working to maintain good when you could be seeking out great.
This step I’m taking is going to make me happier. It’s going to give me comfort and make my daily life a little brighter. So I’m taking a step and making a change. Because being happier is a good enough reason.
Let me ask you something. When was the last time you put “it will make me happier” on your pros list? Or “I’m not as happy as I could be” as a con? How is it so easy for us to not take happiness into account as a justification for our actions?
Now, I’m not naive. I know it’s not always that easy. I know sometimes what makes us happy drastically hurts people we care about or we simply can’t afford to make a choice for our happiness at the moment. I know that choosing happiness sometimes comes with consequences or extra steps to get there. But knowing that should make it even more of a priority when happiness is possible.
This may be an odd thing to say, but I’m not sure happiness is always supposed to be easy. I think in a way you’re supposed to work for it. You’re supposed to have confusing, low moments on your journey. Happiness should be a little hard, so when you’ve finally made it, you can appreciate the work you did to get there.
It’s that old quote, “they never said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it.”
You deserve to choose happiness. You deserve to pursue happiness and make decisions to get there. Period. End of story.
Whatever you do, may it be because you’re reaching for happiness. May it be a step on your journey to joy. May it work out and bring you laughter and peace and gratitude.
Being happy is a noble pursuit. Don’t ever talk yourself out of pursuing it.