Who Wants To Be Happy?
Take a moment. Close you eyes and imagine your wildest dreams. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? What does success, in its truest form look like to you? Can you smell it? Can you see it? How does it feel to have it?
Most people, when asked what success looks like say "happiness". By this, there is generally an understanding that happiness looks like having a family that loves you, having money (at least enough to be comfortable), good friends, and being successful at what you do (i.e. being recognized).
There are too many books, philosophies, religions, podcasts, TED Talks, and blogs that cover the topic of happiness to count. So why is it that we struggle so intensely to find it?
Perhaps our perception of happiness is skewed. Maybe happiness isn't being loved by other people or being esteemed in our fields of work. Maybe it's not ungrateful, but true when a wealthy person says that money can't buy happiness. Is it possible that there's some profundity to the fact that the ultra successful and beautiful routinely fall prey to drugs, alcohol, and other numbing agents? If success, money, and approval are the pathways to happiness, what are they trying to numb?
Happiness never follows money. Money often follows happiness. If there is no foundation of joy in the heart of a human being, love, praise, money, traveling, and 'successful' dreams come true will remain unreceived. An inherently unhappy heart cannot enjoy good things like these. Only a heart that was happy without can be happy with.
In our world, and America specifically, we are a highly goal oriented society. Happiness has been reduced to an equation, rather than a way of being.
Hard work + Persistence = Success. Success = Praise. Praise = Validation. Validation = Happiness.
Thomas Jefferson famously described the unalienable rights of every human being as "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
The word pursuit was no accident. Jefferson understood that life is an un-winnable game. There is no end to the pursuit of happiness. It's an infinite pursuit, because happiness is habitual. Happiness is not achievable. It is not earned or won, but practiced. Those who are physically fit practice physical fitness daily. Those who are happy practice happiness daily.
The idea that there is an ending to the pursuit is poison. This idea leaves the poor hopeless, as they see no way out of their circumstances, thus no way into the gates of happiness. It leaves the rich hopeless, as they toil away trying to understand how having everything has left them hollow still.
The poor man and the rich man have all the same opportunities to be happy. The happy poor man who becomes rich, would then be a happy rich man. An unhappy poor man who becomes rich would be perhaps an even more unhappy rich man. A happy rich man who becomes poor would be a happy poor man. An unhappy poor man who becomes poor will be desolate.
There is no arrival. Give up the idea that there is. Focus on your heart. Good things are attracted to good hearts. Worldly treasure is a jealous lover. It pursues those who don't need it.