Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us on a wild-goose chase and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it. – Nathaniel Hawthorne
I’ve definitely been one of the people who have chased after happiness. It wasn’t my fault that I did so, for I never had anyone in my life who could teach me that there are other ways to go about being happy, but I certainly was not happy during all of the time that I was looking for it.
The problem was simple, and it has to do with yesterday’s meditation: I always expected certain things, or certain people, or certain situations, to make me happy. If this would just happen, I’d tell myself, I’ll be happy. And many times “this” would happen, and guess what? I definitely would feel better for a certain amount of time, but none of the things that I expected would make me happy ever did–the good feeling would fade as I started to realize that my dependence on a thing or another person for happiness was more damaging to me than it was helpful.
I started to discover the meaning of happiness when I started to discover–and practice–the art of acceptance. When I started to accept life for what it was and I started to accept whatever situation I was in as the way things were, I started to see that my happiness depended on my own attitude. When I started focusing on getting the most out of my life the way it was rather than trying to turn it into what I thought it should be, I started to realize that I was, indeed, becoming a much happier person.
If we spend all of our energy trying to change our lives, then we don’t have any energy left to make the most out of everything that we have. When we trust life and look for the lessons within our current situations, we have the opportunity to let happiness come into our lives and touch us gently and lovingly, transforming our perspective so that we can see the happiness inside of us and let it grow on its own, without trying to make it grow. We can’t force a rose to grow–we can only nourish the plant to create the conditions in which a rose can grow. Happiness works much the same way.
Questions to consider:
- Do you ever find yourself trying to force happiness to come into your life?
- Does it help?
- Is it easy to step back and let life take its course without trying to control it?
If not, why not? Can we ever really control life or any aspects of it?
- Who are the happiest people that you know? How do they become happy?
For further thought:
One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world’s end somewhere, and holds fast to the days, as to fortune or fame. Willa Cather