Was I wrong to chase happiness?

I got my dream job… but I miss my friends and family back home. Should you chase happiness?

I have asked the same thing myself, says our elder. The important thing is that happiness comes from within.

Dear EWC

I was raised in a very small town, and I am very close to my family. I recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree, and have my dream job (I make art for video games). I honestly love it. It’s really neat to be paid for something I enjoy doing. My issue is that I have to live in a city. I’m very far from my family, and my support group. I miss them so much. I went to school (after a two year gap period), worked hard to graduate magna cum laude, and worked even harder to find my job. I did it all because I was trying to be happier. Now that I’ve finally got it all, I can’t help feeling that being this far away from the people I truly love is making me less happy. I wonder if I shouldn’t just give it up and return home, and be with people I love. Unfortunately, at this point, thanks to school debt, I’d have a hard time doing that. It seems like trying to chase happiness has made things harder for me. I guess I was looking for thoughts on my particular situation, as well as advice in general. Should you chase happiness?

Mr.Bill replies

Thank you for writing to us and sharing this interesting question. Before I get to your question, let me say a couple things about you.

You are a very impressive person and there is much to admire about you. You took a two-year break, then worked hard and graduated magna cum laude. Very impressive, my friend. Then you found a job, one you thoroughly enjoy, and are making what sounds like a good living. Enough, in fact, to begin paying off your student loans. Yes, there is a lot about you that is impressive.

Now, as to your question about chasing happiness… I have to admit, I have asked the same thing of myself a few times. The conclusion I arrived at is that happiness is within, and that is where we have to find it. You take yourself with you everywhere you go. And that means even when you are chasing it, whatever is within, happiness or unhappiness, goes with you. Or, as Kahlil Gribran put it in the context of love in The Prophet, “And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Try substituting the word happiness for love.”

Now, what does that mean in your situation? I think you can find happiness no matter what you decide to do, no matter where you live. It is up to you. Here are the choices and questions that you will be addressing no matter what you choose.
If you stay where you are, you will continue to work at a job you love and that helps you pay off those loans. But, you miss your friends and family and support system. Can you find a new support system, new friends? It may take some time, but can you? Will you?
If you move, you will be in an environment more suited to who you are. Plus, you will be with family and friends and in your support group. But, you will have to quit a job you love and will still have those student loans. Can you find a similar job? Or at least a job you can work at until the student loans are under control?

Chasing happiness may be an endless quest and the harder you chase, perhaps the farther away it gets. Rather, no matter where you are, and what you are doing, finding the happiness in that situation may be just as attainable.

So, the decision is still yours. I may see a compromise, but the decision is up to you. The compromise may be to stay with your current job until the student debt is more under control. Get experience, continue to experience the joy in the work you do… but with a goal. That goal is to eventually move. Two years. More or less? Doesn’t matter. Set that as a goal.

In the meantime, be looking at jobs where your family and friends are, jobs that you want or can do. With your education and credentials, I have to believe there is something, somewhere, that fits more into your preference for lifestyle, support systems, student debt, and work satisfaction. Or, happiness.

If there aren’t, at some point, your decision may be work or family/friends. After the reality of the student is erased, which will make you most happy?

Those are my thoughts, and, as you requested, they are in general. You are smart enough to know that this is your decision and advice should be in general, not specific to what you should do. The only thing I would come back to is that happiness is within. Because, in the final analysis, we are the ones who decide when we are happy.

There are many factors and elements around us that affect that. Sometimes there is reality, like student debt. Happiness, or contentment, depends on how we view them and our attitudes toward them. And sometimes, we have to endure a few of those factors and elements, face the reality even if only temporarily, and even if they are negative or not to our choosing, before we can make other choices, ones more to our ideals, dreams, preferences, and images of ourselves and our lives. In other words, sometimes we have to endure in order to get what and where we want.

Does this help any? Or maybe at least stimulate some new and helpful thoughts or directions? I hope so. Thanks for contacting the EWC and trusting us with your story. Good luck. Let me know what you decide.

Letter #: 447234
Category: Career

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