On chasing happiness

The 4th season of one of my favorite series (“The Good Place”) has just ended and I found that it touches on something that was on my mind for quite a while now. What if we were able to get everything we wanted in exactly the way and time we wanted? Isn’t it actually the things that we don’t expect and don’t even imagine they could happen that bring us the most joy and wonder in life?

It appears so often that the biggest dream for many people is to be able to control what happens in their life. You might want a certain person to give you love and attention. You might want a certain amount of money to come to you right at this very moment. You might want to be on the very top in your field of work even if you have barely started. Or even better – not have to work at all and just lie on the beach with a drink in your hand 24/7.

But now imagine this. From now on you could get every single one of these things. Whatever you want, just the way you want. You want 1 million dollars? Here you have it. You want a supermodel to chase you down and tell you they love you and bring you gifts every single day? Sure, no problem. You want to eat ice-cream every day and never gain any weight? It’s done. You want a house by the beach? There, it’s yours.

You might think wow, this is amazing, this would be my dream life. If that’s your first reaction, think again. First of all, wouldn’t it take away the fun to know exactly what you’re going to get? Think of all those times when someone you cared for made you feel special or when you met someone out of the blue and they ended up becoming a huge presence in your life or when you were travelling and by accident you discovered a really cool place that wasn’t mentioned in any guide. Wasn’t that element of surprise part of the fun? Wasn’t it what made it so special and what made you appreciate it so much? Doesn’t it make you wonder that perhaps if you could create everything you wanted, you would miss out on so many things that ended up being much more amazing than those things you wanted in the first place? I used to think I wanted to work as an online marketer and having freedom as to where I was living and how I spent my days. But guess what? When I gave it a try, I did not enjoy it at all. It was completely unaligned with my personality and even though I thought I wasn’t a people person, the lack of daily human contact wasn’t as great as I had imagined. And then, almost by accident I found a job in IT, in a small start-up that’s actually focused on making a difference in the world by working with companies in Africa and Asia which support the environment through things like spreading the clean energy or encouraging recycling. I would never have imagined I could have so much fun, so much variety in tasks and I could be paid for doing what I’m doing. I’m having so much fun working in IT, connecting with people who are on the same page as me, feeling that together we are making a difference.

Secondly, wouldn’t it be utterly exhausting having the control over everything? Having to think of what every single aspect of your life should look like? Isn’t it actually easier to let go of that control and let life surprise you? Isn’t it nice to just relax into it, focus on feeling good right now and appreciating all the wonders and blessings you are already surrounded with?

The truth is, we want things simply because we believe they will make us happy. What we often fail to realize is that if we always give the power of making us happy to things that are in the future, we will never really be happy in the present moment. Once we get to that thing we wanted, we will find something else to desire that we don’t yet have. The future is never coming – the only thing there ever was and there ever is is now. What this means is that the only way out of this endless circle of chasing happiness is to realize that everything you really need is already within you right now. You have the power to make your days fun and filled with happiness by choosing to do things that you enjoy, even if it’s one smallest thing every single day. You have the power to give yourself love, affection and attention that you crave so badly from another person by acknowledging that you deserve your own love, by showing yourself affection and patience and taking the time for self-care and getting to know yourself through spending quality time alone, meditating, going within, challenging your thoughts and beliefs.

So instead of dreaming about the fairy-tale future, embrace the fact that you are here now and exactly because there is no certainty in life, there is an endless amount of wonderful possibilities for unexpected and exciting things to happen that await you. Keep an open mind to embrace them when they come into your life but also don’t forget that you are here and now and you can make this very moment wonderful by making a choice of what you want to make of it. So often we get so worked up about what we want to achieve that we almost forget where we are. We forget to enjoy the process of getting somewhere and it’s so sad because in the end the process can be just as wonderful or even more wonderful and exciting than the end destination.

One thought on “On chasing happiness

  1. That completely resonates with me. When my kids were small I couldn’t wait until they were more independent so life would become easier. Now they’re grown and I feel like I wished their childhoods away. Now I wish I had spent less time focusing on what I didn’t have and more on what I did have. I now spend much less time worrying about the mess and enjoy the bit of time I have left with them in my home, enjoying the people they’ve become.

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