Wiser men than I have struggled with the problem of “how to achieve happiness”. I’m not claiming my answer is the final word on the subject. I may be completely wrong, but I’ve had enough experience that I think there are nuggets of truth in what you’re going to read in this post. If this post results in even an infinitesimally small improvement in your quest for happiness, then I have accomplished my goal in its writing.

Happiness is overcoming struggle and solving problems on your way towards a goal. That sentence tells you everything you need to know about how to achieve the elusive state of happiness. Happiness does not exist in an exact location. It will not be found in a person. There are no objects you can possess that will make you happy. There are only things you can do and perspectives you adopt.

To be happy, one must triumph over a difficulty. A life without problems to solve lacks the capacity for happiness. This is similar to facing an opponent in any contest of skill. There is little joy in beating a much weaker opponent. There is joy in besting an opponent equal or superior to you. The challenges in your life are the opponents.

Conquering basic challenges only confirms you are minimally equipped to survive. Making it through more difficult and unique challenges brings a greater and more substantial joy to your life. There is a caveat. You must conquer the challenges relevant to your basic desires as a human being before you are able to engage the others with appropriate vigor.

Most people intuitively understand this part. They know the importance of income and relationships. After achieving a certain level is where the problems begin. Happiness is found in moving towards a goal and solving problems along the way.

The universe is designed this way so it does its best to give you new problems to solve. As a result, no one’s life is perfect and free of issue for a substantial amount of time. This is just part of the human condition and solving these problems is necessary to fulfill a condition of happiness.

Solving a problem is one component of the movement. The other is going towards a goal. You must always believe that you can improve the important things in your life. You can learn more, become more skilled, make more money, find more ways to help, build deeper relationships with your loved ones, etc.

Constant improvement is the goal. This is another great joke the universe plays on us. In satisfaction there is misery because there is nothing to work for. Happiness is in the solving, not the solution.

Happiness has a lot in common with water. It needs to move to be maximally useful. Only when water is in motion can it do tremendous things. When it sits still, the problems begin. Not only is it useless, but it becomes dangerous as impurities and bacteria take up residence. Then it becomes a poison that causes great distress.

Distress is experienced when you stop moving. We stop moving when something tragic happens to us that makes us wonder what the point of it all is. We stop moving when we become content with our life and don’t push ourselves towards a goal. Even if a person has great wealth and solves all of life’s problems, they will not be happy if there is nothing to move against or towards. This is why people with abundant resources turn to charity.

Movement is the key. Problems are essential. Goals are non-negotiable. If you have these things, you will have a baseline of happiness. You must find things to improve and ways to improve them, even if only by an infinitesimally small amount. This creates the goal. Your own life and basic problems are relevant first, but then you must find things to fix in your world or you will stagnate. Remember: happiness is in solving. Not in the solution.

The rest is up to you.