The pursuit of happiness is toxic

Matt Hogan
2 min readJun 9, 2024


Seeking the conventional life of security, comfort, and notoriety can be seductive. Holding false promises of happiness and well-being, you grind away aspiring to one day arrive at this magical place where you can finally rest your head.

A place where you can finally look in the mirror and say, “I’m enough”. “I’ve done enough”. “I have enough”.

Money and external validation will never fulfill the desires of your soul. No amount of seeking comfort, and certainty, will fulfill this either.

The days, weeks, months, and years go by. Seemingly innumerable moments of driving, talking, eating, sleeping, writing, reading, parenting, thinking, goal-seeking, questioning, and more.

You pause and consider…

  • What has changed since the last time I took inventory of my life?
  • Who have I become in contrast to who I have been?
  • What did the past version of me deem most essential for this lifetime?
  • Did I ask them?
  • Did I resign to the conventional standards of the culture?

What about today?

If you’ve spent years building momentum towards a certain image of ‘life needs to be this’, to change course, takes intention and effort.

The challenge often is one of pride, fear, missing clarity, courage, and willingness. Left to one’s current personal will, nothing may change, unless life brings something catastrophic to wake you up to what you are doing.

Perhaps your health begins to fail. Your marriage falls apart. Your business goes bankrupt. Someone close to you dies. It may take something as devastating as this to have you look in the mirror and ask…

“Is living the way I am working?”

I’ve faced the hollowness of my pursuits numerous times. Life has shown me over and over the lies I’ve believed that promised to lead to some oasis of life.

Lies such as…

  1. This position and salary will ensure happiness and feelings of safety
  2. This woman will be who gives me the love missing in my life
  3. Traveling to these countries will give me the experiences I’m missing
  4. Eating this specific way will ensure everything will feel better
  5. Once I am staying in a better home, I’ll have what I want = happy
  6. I will feel better when I complete my to-do list

And more…

All the while, much of the time it seemed the vitality and spirit was sucked out of life… Because I was always in pursuit. In pursuit of a moonshot that never actualized. And when it does, the fleeting feelings of satisfaction, threw me back into the endless seeking to be satiated.

Much of soul and spirit has been sucked out of life in pursuits of fitting in, feeling comfortable, and believing that happiness comes from fulfilling a checklist.

What happens when life is sucked dry of spirit and soul?

  • Vitality drys up,
  • Relationships feel flat and neutral at best. Poor and toxic at worst,
  • There’s a never-ending pursuit of circumstantial change to feel better,
  • As death inches closer, the sense of urgency to fulfill something grows.

So, what now?

Start with an honest conversation with yourself.

“Is living the way I am working?”

Thank you for reading.

Be well,




Matt Hogan

Coaching Leaders & Executives to Find Purpose, Clarity, and Alignment. | World Traveler | Soul Seeker | I help you through the hard sh*t.