So many people want to be happy, and so many are not. Such an unhappy lot we are!
The pursuit of happiness seems to me to be a rather silly mindless exercise. If being happy is what I want, there are a number of substances, mostly illegal, that will keep me in a perpetual state of benign dopiness.
While I am far from an expert on the subject, many of you will know that has not often stopped me from contributing my thoughts on any subject. So, with that out of the way, I will begin:
Firstly, it seems to me that, in my life, happiness has found me and taken me by surprise far more often than I have ferreted it out by myself. Could it be one of those annoying things I am less likely to find by seeking directly, than by allowing it to overtake me as it pleases? Could it be that pursuing happiness as an end in itself might very well lead me to do some really silly things in my life that just about guarantee I do not find the very thing I seek?
Happiness is not an end in itself in my life. Instead, it arrives as a by-product of having my life and relationships in order. Wanting to be happy without realising it's part of a process is a bit like wanting the goodwill and warmth of Christmas without understanding the necessary precursors for Christmas gatherings to work. Non existent family relationships, neglected friendships, habitual selfishness: none of these things can be neutralised by last minute presents, lavish meals, or false bonhomie.
I have experienced Christmases like that. Maybe you have too: Where neglect of relationships and family bonding during the year ensures the hollowness of the whole charade is front and centre on the day. Families and relationships need to be nurtured, not over minutes or hours, but across months and years. Christmases don't just happen; and certainly not at the behest of an open wallet, or last minute hopes.
If my friendships and family relationships are strong my Christmases just sort of happen by themselves. Fixating on having a warm and happy Christmas gathering without paying attention to the long haul of love and relationships over time is a silly strategy. Apologies and sympathy to people who do not have love in their families for all sorts of reasons, but maybe you see my point about making the end point the focus when the process is what matters?
In the same way, when I chase happiness I focus on the end point instead of the journey. If I'm not careful I can find myself wishing my life away, oblivious to the goodness that surrounds me; putting life on hold, waiting to be happy.
Some of us divorce to be happy; use alcohol or other drugs; have babies; change houses; change careers; change cities; take up hobbies; go to counselling; buy boats; join gyms: I could go on, and I suspect you could too. Some diverse strategies in that list: not many of them have a great track record in guaranteeing happiness.
As I've already said, happiness has tended to find me rather than the other way around. It has tended to find me when I have been paying attention to other things, like:
Feeling loved and wanted.
Feeling I have a purpose, and knowing what that purpose is.
Trying to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Not being too discouraged when, on any particular day, I don't manage the above things very well.
None of these presuppose that I sit with a silly grin on my face, or skip around picking flowers. None of them have anything to do with how full my social calendar is (usually not very) or how wealthy I am. However I'm sure there are some very wealthy people who are happy. It just seems to me that these points are a starting point for understanding when, where and why happiness finds me, when it chooses to.
This has been useful to me to set out what I think about happiness and how to find it. Maybe it makes sense to you. I hope so. Maybe you know more than I do about happiness and how to find it. That is quite possible. If so, forgive my presumption.
If you are determined to chase happiness and achieve it on your terms, then I wish you well. Maybe next time you will succeed . . . or the one after that.