Since this is the time of year when everybody wishes everybody a Happy New Year, let’s take a few moments to think about the “pursuit of happiness”, a goal that most of us feel is essential to living a good life.
Have you figured out how to achieve happiness? Or, does happiness seem to be eluding you? A tease. There one moment, gone the next.
If you wish your life could be happier, if you want to feel more joy on a regular basis, here are a few ideas that you might want to consider.
Some people think about the pursuit of happiness in a topsy-turvy way. They think that getting what they want will bring about the desired result. And they may be right....but only for a short period of time. As I’m sure you know, the thrill of getting something new in your life wanes rather quickly. Hence, if you want happiness to be a life-affirming position rather than a quick high, you must know that happiness comes about not by getting what you want but by wanting what you have.
Another way of saying this is that we are happy, not because all of our wishes are fulfilled, but because we experience what we have in a positive manner. We all know people (I hope you’re not one of them) who are often unhappy because their focus is on the negative what they don’t have, what is not perfect, what went wrong or, even if things are good, they spoil the feeling by waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Other people think that improving their lives will make them happier, but ignore the need to improve themselves. They act as though life is a buffet. You get to pick what you like, leaving behind what you don’t like without enduring any consequences for ignoring all that is distasteful to you. They think that you should never have to deal with what’s unappetizing. Never have to experience what doesn’t agree with you. Never have to attend to what makes you feel uncomfortable.
Then when life hits them with the unexpected, the unwanted, the undesirable, they wail, “It’s not supposed to happen this way!” No life, however, can be lived without some dreadful things happening to a person. And yet, we can still be happy. Happiness, however, is not an equal opportunity attribute. It is more likely to be experienced by those who invest in their own growth. Those who develop resiliency. Those who strengthen their backbone. Those who don’t sweat the small stuff. Those who learn to disagree without being disagreeable. Those who realize they don’t always have to be in control. Those who relish experiences that make them happy while minimizing the experiences that don’t.
As we begin a new year, I hope that it will be a happy one for you. And I trust that you will not spend so much time pursuing happiness that you have too little time to appreciate it when it comes a knocking at your door.