Isn’t happiness what everybody is looking for? Big dreams, plans, goals, hope, sacrifice of today’s pleasure, discipline, hard work… all ends with just one wish: to feel happy. Right?! Wrong!
We don’t want to have a happy life, we want to have an exciting life. We want our lives to have meaning, but we don’t know what we’re looking for, so we call it happiness.
Happiness is a kind of “one size fits all” dream, when you don’t know what you want… well, you just want to be happy.
But what is happiness? Can you describe it? Can you tell me about the happy moments you’ve had in your life? Now tell me: weren’t these moments exciting? Weren’t these moments meaningful to you? Weren’t you feeling alive in a way you can’t really describe in words? You crave those feelings again, don’t you? You wish you could live permanently in a state of grace, just like you were at those times of your life, right?
“Happiness is a butterfly which when pursued is just out of grasp… But if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
The famous quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne leads us to think that happiness is something that “comes to us”. Chasing or not chasing it, the idea is that it’s something external that we must patiently wait… then it happens.
Most people’s lives are an endless quest for happiness. There’s always something else to be conquered, one more goal, one more dream… Until then they must bear the sacrifice and the hard work, because the reward will be the expected happiness. But then, when it happens, the goal is conquered, the dream is achieved, after all the excitement is gone, there’s nothing left. Where is the long lasting happiness? Frustration and deception take over and the quest for another goal, another dream that supposedly will be the one that will bring the endless happiness starts again.
Some put their happiness in the hands of love, or the dream of it. Others think they should just live their lives and as Nathaniel Hawthorne, they should sit and wait. Life will take care of bringing them happiness. And there’s the ones that think happiness lies just around the corner of a big goal.
The concept that happiness lies within is not new. Still people are looking for happiness outside themselves, giving things, people or events the power of making them happy or miserable.
I guess it doesn’t matter if we know where happiness hides if we don’t know how to reach it, right? If our lives are empty and meaningless, how could we ever find happiness inside? It can only be outside, some might think…
Most of the confusion we have with “the quest for happiness” comes from the fact that we don’t really know what it is, so what we’re looking for doesn’t really exist! But that’s a subject for another article!