Our Quest for Happiness
Why is it the path to happiness so elusive? It seems we’re constantly being tricked into believing it’s right around the corner, only to find it has mysteriously evaded us once again.
Perhaps we tell ourselves one day we will be happy … when we retire … when we have enough money … when we meet that certain someone. But happiness doesn’t just “arrive.”
For years I thought others were supposed to make me happy, and in return, my job was to reciprocate the favor. Unfortunately, this rarely works out. Instead of creating an atmosphere of bliss, things often become complicated. Whether we intentionally or unintentionally attach strings to acts of devotion—based on our needs, wants, desires—or we possess unrealistic expectations of people or situations, looking outside of ourselves for happiness usually ends in disappointment.
The truth is, only we can make ourselves happy. It is a gift we give to ourselves.
Frequently, happiness begins with how we choose to react in life.
“Just because you are happy it does not mean that the day is perfect
but that you have looked beyond its imperfections.”—Bob Marley
Shit happens. And sometimes it seems as though some people receive way more than their fair share. However, while today may be overcast and gloomy, the sun still shines behind the clouds. And soon its radiant light will be upon us once again. We hold the power to how we choose to react to what life gives us. This is not to infer it is easy, but it is in our control.
Yet, there must be more to this quest for happiness than merely how we choose to respond to life situations. So, what’s the secret … how do we make ourselves happy?
Perhaps it lies in our decision to love.
“What makes you happy is not the love that other people feel for you, but the love
you feel for other people.”—Don Miguel Ruiz
This message appeared in my inbox, and then, the following day, I heard the exact concept while listening to a podcast. Coincidence? No way! Synchronicity? Absolutely! When this happens, I know to stop, pause, and ask what God wants me to know.
At first, I thought, but don’t we all want to feel loved? Isn’t it human to desire the affection of another—a partner, parent, child, friend, pet? Doesn’t having another’s love make you feel valued, special, adored?
While I believe this to be true, being loved and loving another are two different things. We can take someone’s love for granted, but rarely do we nonchalantly love another. Unconditional love is the biggest gift we can offer.
Acts of kindness can also lead to happiness. That is, if they are shared from the heart and not done to fix, please, or control. Offering a smile, a word of encouragement, or financial support—to a friend or stranger—can be the impetus to our own happiness.
Finally, happiness can be realized through gratitude. When we fully appreciate those in our lives as well as our good fortune, something inside shifts. The little things that bother us lose their importance as we understand what truly matters.
Happiness is rarely found through achievement or status. Nor can anyone bestow it upon us. Instead, this state of being occurs through our choices, love, acts of kindness, and gratitude. And when we finally embody the feeling pure happiness evokes, we know we are at peace, we are whole, and we are enough.
“The happiest people seem to be those who have no particular cause for being happy
except that they are so.”—William Ralph Inge