Just the nature of “being in pursuit . . .” implies something is missing, akin to “the grass is always greener on the other side.” The one in pursuit believes he or she lacks the very thing they are pursuing. In the midst of pursuit, the very thing you are after, in this case happiness, will always elude you. That is the nature of pursuit. It’s only when we give up the search, in the absence of looking, and in the stillness, can we actually obtain what we were seeking.
The pursuit of happiness actually reinforces people’s misery and dissatisfaction because they believe they haven’t found happiness yet. And even if there is a glimpse of happiness, perhaps from something out of the blue, it goes unrecognized or unacknowledged because it didn’t last, or wasn’t enough, or wasn’t “IT.”
This isn’t it . . . Back to the pursuit . . .
But what if getting to “happiness” isn’t the point. What if “happiness” is not the end goal of life? As a matter of fact, who said finding happiness is what life’s all about anyway? If we place our attention on the lack of happiness as is implied when we are looking for it, we get more of what we place our attention on: lack of happiness. So what do we do then? Search harder? No, just the opposite.
Let’s look at this and try to really dispel the myth of believing we can find happiness. Let’s say you’ve embarked on a happiness pursuit. How would you even know when you achieved happiness? How would you measure it? What would it look like? How would it feel? How often would you be feeling it? Can it be quantified?
We think we know what will finally make us happy:
- “When I graduate, then I’ll be happy!”
- “When I start my career, then I’ll be happy!”
- “When I get a new car, then I’ll be happy!”
- “When I make my first million, oh yes, I’ll be happy!”
- “When I get married, then I’ll be happy!”
- “When I get divorced, then I’ll be happy!”
We also have been told (and know this to be true if we are lucky): No thing and no one can make you happy. But that doesn’t stop us from expecting it and from being disappointed over and over when we don’t get it. The pursuit of happiness sounds like a set up for disappointment and dissatisfaction. Happiness doesn’t “live” anywhere. It’s not something to “get” and hold on to. That’s impossible.
So why all the advertising? Eat this and be happy! Don’t eat this and be happy! Take a pill and get happy!! I’ve seen those ads. Why make us feel like we should be happy all the time? What is the point of these advertisements? Take (do, go to, buy) so-and-so and be happy. Am I doing something wrong if I feel sad, or anything but happy? So many mixed messages out there, except one thing is clear – people will spend millions trying to get happy.
There are so many deep, rich experiences in life that don’t include happiness. On this planet, you can’t even know happiness without sadness – they live equally side by side. What about grief. Sometimes grief is more comforting and more appropriate then happiness. Compassion is an incredibly, warming, heart-felt feeling I wouldn’t want to miss. Gratitude is also wonderful and fulfilling. Personally, I prefer having a balance. Why then, are we so focused on happiness?
We are, at the end of the day, human after all. We are vessels for feelings and thoughts – some wanted and some unwanted. Just try to stop your feelings and thoughts coming in. It’s impossible. They just come. Nothing we can do about it. Even in meditation, thoughts come, and for the most part, witnessing them and staying in the moment is a good outcome.
If we allowed thoughts and feelings to exist, to drift in and out of us, then we would have some power over our reactions and be able to make conscious choices. This isn’t easy, I know. So many times we get caught up in believing that this thought I am having is mine, or this feeling I am feeling is the truth right now.
When we believe thoughts or feelings are ours, like we own them, and become identified with them (I am……) we react, giving up our power of choice.
It’s kind of like switching from “I am angry” to “I feel anger.” I feel anger and let it be, without reacting, because “anger” isn’t who I am!! Same for the thought “I am stupid.” Stupid is not who I am, it’s just a thought I am having and believe to be true, used as a judgment against myself. It’s not true – and needs to be questioned.
Happiness, then, I say, is not at the end of the pursuit, it is in allowing all the feelings and thoughts to show up in your life without resistance, judgment, or personalization of any kind. Giving space for all of it to just be. And giving space for yourself to be OK – no matter what you think you believe about yourself or others. Allow every thought and every feeling to present itself and drift off without assigning meaning. This allows freedom for you to be who you are in every aspect of your life. Allowing it all to exist – and looking no where, not even inside yourself, because feelings and thoughts don’t live inside of us.
It’s in the allowing that things can change because there is no resistance.
The pursuit of happiness is a lie. Let it go so you can enjoy your life. Savor those moments of true happiness – listening to your favorite song, smelling fresh cut grass, being in nature, enjoying your children, or walking your dog. It’s all good!!
Please share!! And add your comments below – I am very appreciative!! Thank you!
You can find out about my book The Path to My Heart here!