The Pursuit of Happiness is the Source of all Unhappiness
I was on the metro the other day, and saw a woman carrying a luluemon bag, it was covered in quotes (later which I learned to be part of their manifesto) — but the one that stuck out most to me was;
“The pursuit of happiness is the source of all unhappiness”
I wish someone would have told me this, as bluntly and directly, when I was younger. The world in which we live, is based on the preconceived notion that you need things, or status, or anything but what you already have — in order to be happy. This is just one hugeeeeeeeee big fat lie. In college was when I truly fell victim to this false belief. Towards the end of school I began to realize that not only was pursuing happiness running me ragged, I had no idea what I really defined as my own happiness. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, everywhere you look there seem to be competing ideals of happiness. The biggest culprit of confusion, the media, is constantly jamming advertisements telling us what is happiness, and exactly how much it can cost us. In ruHap’s list of 39 Happiness-Slogans from major companies it is clear to see that everywhere, everyone wants you to feel like they have the key to end your “pursuit of happiness”.
The reality is, nobody has the key to your happiness but you. We all have the ability to be happy. It doesn’t come from people, places or things. It’s a choice and a mindset that takes a daily concentrated effort. Despite how it may be portrayed, it’s not an end destination as the term “pursuit of happiness” implies, but a lifestyle. Happiness does not mean there will never be a bad day, troubling situation, or upsetting circumstance ever again in your life. It means understanding that those situations, do not have to steal your joy. Your happiness is yours, it is created and destroyed by you. It is as real or as fleeting as you choose to allow it to be.
If you don’t know where to start in finding your happiness, there are a million things to do. When I began my journey, I started first with my gratitude journal — and wrote 5 things daily that I was grateful for, no matter how large or how small. I spent time not worrying about “things” that I needed to be happy, but what I could do to help others be happy. Whether it was donating clothing, volunteering or just smiling at random strangers as I walked by, I did it — and I found that it helped me be happy too. I got my life, and got lost in my faith and reconnected to the idea that life is soo much bigger and means soo much more than the here and now in a materialistic sense. When I focused on these aspects, my thoughts and mindset began to change, and a balance returned to my life that had been missing. I learned and lived the truth, that you cannot lead a positive life with a negative mindset. It was at that point realized I was actually happy.
So if you ever again find yourself wondering where your happiness went — just remember that true happiness lies within you, and remember “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln