Why you shouldn’t pursue happiness
Wherever you turn there seems to be a plethora of books, blog posts and magazine articles telling you how to hunt happiness. Like happiness is something you can pursue or pin down. I find chasing happiness an odd idea, it’s not something that I do and I wouldn’t suggest anyone else go hunting for happiness either. Because you won’t find it.
Happiness is not a destination to reach, a goal to strive for or an accolade to attain. It’s not something you can get your hands on, put in your pocket or pin up on the wall.
Happiness is a way of being, thinking and living. It’s a choice we can all make every minute, every hour, and a choice we keep making every day. It’s not like once you’ve decided to be happy that’s it, job done. And it’s not something that you sustain 24/7. There’s a wide range of feelings available to us and they demand to be felt in differing quantities on different occasions.
We can all cultivate an attitude of happiness. We can choose how we react to situations that may in themselves be out of our control.
We can choose to be open to happiness by looking at events, experiences and conversations from a broader point of view. For instance, your friend put the phone down on you in a hurry. You could think she didn’t want to speak to you and feel rejected and hurt. Or, you could think of other possible reasons such as there was someone at her door, the kids were about to injure each other, a pan was boiling over, she was late for an appointment… and believe it had nothing to do with you and think no more of it.
We can see joy in everyday, ordinary moments by paying attention to what’s going on around us. For example, you’re having lunch with a friend. Be aware of the pleasant surroundings, the tasty meal, the speedy service, the smile on your friend’s face, the interest and concern in her voice, the laughter and the sharing of this time together. You can choose to notice and savour the happiness in this ordinary situation. If you set out to hunt for the happiness in that lunch you’d probably end up disappointed.
Happiness is within us already, you don’t need to hunt for it. Every day you and I can choose to make happiness a part of our lives through our thoughts, actions, attitude and responses. Today, tomorrow and the day after.