Want less to live more.

It's an age-old adage we've heard time and again. Happiness, as we know very well, is toxic if it is dependent on material, goal-oriented goods. To embody the philosophy, however, is much easier said than done, but realizing why could change your life.

Let's start by figuring out why certain goals need to be met in order for us to obtain happiness. For many, an obvious road to joy is getting rich. Many have associated the act of growing rich or making a lavish sum with the thought of an easy, fulfilled life. Yet this is absolutely not and has never been the case.

Setting money--or any material good, for that matter--as an end goal only results in a belief of goal-oriented happiness. This belief has much deeper ramifications than we ever could imagine.

Such a philosophy promotes a way of life that dictates one will feel a certain way if a certain event occurs or if a particular object is obtained. It ultimately becomes more than a single objective; it becomes a lifestyle, and one that rarely leads to consistent happiness.

People who are too goal-oriented have trouble dealing with things when life doesn't go as planned.

As acclaimed writer Maya Angelou wisely put it, "I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way she/he handles three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas lights."

We all have expectations, most of which are not ever met; the hard part is learning how to deal when things don't go our way. Setting our happiness dependent on concrete goods or conditions make it impossible to ever be satisfied doing nothing more than existing.

Learning to find contentment in the journey to happiness is, ironically enough, what actually brings us the ability to achieve happiness we can maintain.

Buddha called contentment “the greatest wealth," and there doesn't seem to be much argument about that. So let's take Buddha's advice to heart and try to find contentment where there seems to be nothing but struggle.

What we find might surprise us.

Published on: Aug 20, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.