Why Happiness Comes from Purposeful Actions

UPDATED: May 17, 2024
PUBLISHED: January 20, 2022

We envision a life with minimal stress when we think of happiness. In this fantasy world, working around the clock is no longer a priority. There’s enough money to pay our bills and splurge on fun things, like vacations and hobbies.

The ironic part is that happiness looks like paradise while functioning as a daily grind. It takes a lot of effort, performed month after month, to build a joyful life. And before that happens, you have to choose the whole thing—the trying, the failing, the dusting yourself off. 

In this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, David Meltzer, co-founder of Sports 1 Marketing, explains why happiness comes from purposeful doing. Meltzer’s book, Game Time Decision-Making: High-Scoring Business Strategies from the Biggest Names in Sports, is a playbook for business success that highlights good decision-making. It also mirrors his perspective on happiness, which he describes as the result of discipline and strategy.

“Nobody wants to get started,” Meltzer says. “They don’t want to get back up. How many workouts have [you approached] and said, I don’t want to do this? And then you get started, and the first five minutes suck, and an hour later when you’re done, you’re so grateful and happy?”

In a conversation with SUCCESS People Editor Tristan Ahumada, Meltzer shares a unique perspective on becoming happy.

Desire is the best catalyst for happiness.

Wanting something—anything—is the starting point of all happiness. Expecting a rosy outcome from life is what adds meaning and direction to everything you do.

But the happiest people don’t just want things. They desire them. They have a hunger for success that trumps their current reality, and they’ll stop at nothing to merge the two.

“When you have the desire that you must be what you can be, your purpose will always outweigh the pain: setbacks, failures, or mistakes,” Meltzer says.

So that’s the first thing to master on the happiness journey: unbridled desire. Don’t choose a lukewarm goal you’re not passionate about. Pick a pursuit that motivates you to create your happiest life.

Happiness happens one day at a time.

Most people plan their happiness for the distant future, Meltzer says. They think, I’ll feel better when I launch my business. Or they grumble, I wish I could skip to the good part of life where I have everything I want. But that doesn’t leave much hope for the present. It’s better to cultivate today’s joy while building long-term happiness for the future.

“I believe we should only have daily resolutions based on our New Year’s resolutions and our immediate and long-term objectives,” Meltzer says. “That will help us know what we want to do today.”

Prioritizing your life one day at a time keeps procrastination at bay. It also frees you up to explore your purpose and embrace true happiness. 

Here are three steps to get better at prioritizing:

  1. Focus on today. What do you want to experience, receive, give and produce in tandem with your goals?
  2. Find a community that gets you. These are people willing to help you and also accept your help in an ecosystem of like-minded people.
  3. Use practical tools like discipline, strategy and awareness to reach your goals.

Don’t underestimate the power of sleep.

What does happiness have to do with sleep? More than we think. No one says it aloud, but chronic exhaustion—even the kind spawned by entrepreneurship—is a happiness blocker. You don’t feel your best, and because you have no energy, you don’t tackle your priorities the way you planned. 

Meltzer says entrepreneurs should focus on having better evenings, not routine-heavy mornings. After all, what good is a morning routine if you’re too tired to function?

“You’ve heard this [before]: All great people have a morning routine,” Meltzer says, impersonating past interviewers. “What’s your routine, Mr. Meltzer? No. All great people have an unwinding routine. They start their tomorrow today. They put themselves in a [position] for recovery and access.”

Unwinding at night is about being mindful. It’s understanding that drinking coffee and watching TV in bed will disrupt your sleep. It’s realizing that serious talks are best had in the morning when you’re most energetic.

Happiness is many things, but it’s not effortless. It involves some labor, but it’s a labor of love you get to choose each day. The more you choose that journey, the easier it becomes to marry your desires with the habits that make dreams unfold.

Brilliant Thoughts with Tristan Ahumada is no longer releasing new episodes on the SUCCESS Podcast Network, but you can still listen to the full conversation below.

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Lydia Sweatt

Lydia Sweatt is a freelance writer, bookworm, and bass guitar enthusiast. When she goes outside, a bicycle goes with her.