The concept of happiness bothers me.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m completely fine with people being happy. And for the record, I love being happy, too. But there’s a difference between happiness and false hope, and that’s what we’re all failing to see.

Society seems to have an odd obsession with the idea of happiness. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say, “My goal in life is to be…happy,” and to be honest, I’ve done the same as well. Really, we consider everything we do in life to be in pursuit of happiness. I suppose this isn’t entirely our fault. From a young age, we’re told stories where the only possible outcome is a happily ever after–a happy ending, with people walking off into the sunset. Who wouldn’t want a life like that?

But what we don’t realize is that this insinuates an inadvertent fear of sadness. A fear of being defeated and shut down; a fear that we might not always be successful. And if I’ve learned anything during my brief time on this planet, it’s that life is a bumpy ride—we all know that.

So why do we keep on setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment by aiming for happiness? If you want to be happy, anything that does not meet your standard of satisfaction will only make you sadder, and in the end, knowing that you haven’t achieved your goal of happiness only disappoints you even more. It’s counterproductive, really.

Rather than aiming to be happy, we should all aim to be whole. There is no real definition for it, but wholeness is composed of a multitude of elements. It is a mixture of pleasant moments of joy, excitement, victory, success, and fun, in addition to the lows of depression, disappointment and failure. It is multifaceted, and thus allows more room for error. In fact, there is no error because practically everything that an individual experiences in life will add to that person’s wholeness. You can’t fail at becoming whole, and that’s the beauty of this paradigm.

In the end, it’s important to remember that we learn more from the lows than we do from the highs. Every mistake in life is a learning experience, and every time we are struck down, we stand up stronger than before; we’re more whole.

So instead of thinking about whether an event is contributing to your happiness, ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” And if you’ve been having a bad day, then, yes, it is.