The Pursuit of Happiness
Ever since little, I’ve heard countless voices utter the word ‘happiness’, and I’m sure you have too. Everywhere, people want to be happy and consequentially, we find ourselves in a world that seeks happiness as a life goal. We find it in schools, churches and innumerable other institutions. Happiness is indeed a great feeling, so pursuing it seems to make sense! Who would want to spend the rest of their life sad? I sure don’t. But the more I think about it, I’m not so sure that I want to spend the rest of my life being in a state of happiness either; or seeking it for that matter.
This may seem blunt and harsh (and contrary to what most people would think), but chasing happiness is a sham. On the surface of the ocean, it makes sense, but when we explore the depths of the subject, I’m not so sure that happiness is a very substantial thing to pursue. I aim to be most humble in all things, although I do fail at times, so I forgive myself and try again. But believe me when I say I seek your best. I mean… I used to truly (deeply) think the word ‘happy’ was the way to a good life; but it turned out to be nothing more than superfluous ambition of mine.
Well, to simply put it – Happiness is just a feeling.
So, how can one pursue happiness if it’s just a feeling; and feelings sway. In essence, being in a state of happiness is not stable by nature. Saying that I’ll be happy for the rest of my life is like saying I’ll be hungry for the rest of my life, in that they’re both feelings that come and go. I cannot assuredly say that I will be hungry every moment of everyday, in the same way, I cannot say I will be happy for a life time. Besides, calling someone a happy person doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. That person is basically being given an identity by their emotion. And this identity is more or less, found upon a feeling.
Thinking that happiness was the way of being, I neglected how necessary it is for a person to go through the seas of despair and sorrow in order to see and experience growth, wisdom and beauty that come out at tribulation’s end. Going through trials can be the most painful of times; but it is beautiful, it teaches you, it is necessary to sustain a life true to itself, not neglecting the bad and the ugly, but accepting it as it comes; living authentically.
That is the reason why I dislike the idea of seeking happiness as a way of being – It results in a synthetic way of life. And I’d go as far as to say there is something of inextricable beauty that can be found in those “un-happy times”. Don’t believe me? Go venture and find it for yourself.
Rather than happiness, seek love. You may say that love is also a feeling, and it is! But it is much more than that. If love was only a feeling, then what is the significance of vows on a wedding day? Better to say that it is a choice. “I choose to love through thick and thin, through the good and the bad, through the pretty and the ugly”. The ability to love is a great gift, don’t forget it. Seek kindness, seek compassion, seek humility, seek truth as a way of being. Happiness is hollow. Instead, seek things that teach you to be a better person, being true to life as it comes and not neglecting the hard times, because often, it is those times that teach you empathy and sympathy. There is a wondrous nature in the feeling of the latter sentiments, in that they are channels that allow you to connect to another human being on an intimate and personal level; what great a gift empathy and sympathy are. If seeking happiness means rejecting the trials that lead to these feelings that allow me to truly connect to someone, then I don’t want it.
“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and do not call it hard names.”
~ Henry David Thoreau.
I hope this was eye-opening to some, as it surely was for me; but more importantly, I hope this was encouraging to you who maybe are struggling with meeting the standard of happiness of those around you, or to you who are seeking to live authentically. Whatever the reason, I hope this has blessed you.