The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness is a complex thing, isn’t it? First of all it is subjective and varies from one person to the next. One man’s/woman’s idea of happiness may well be another person’s worst nightmare, and so, with that in mind, how on earth do we find our own happy medium? How do we find what makes us truly happy? Well, that too is a hard thing because only we know what makes us happy, don’t we?

So how does one go about pursing something so obscure and subjective, especially when no one else can see it, touch it or feel it? That, I believe, is one of life’s great questions and, consequently, one of the hardest to answer. It involves going on a journey that we are conditioned from birth not to venture on, and so it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience . . . depending on your own goal, of course.

Our society is not designed to promote such a life-long pursuit, especially if your own happiness does not in any way involve accumulated wealth or material possessions. We are raised to pass exams and then told to use those numbers to choose a vocation. We are raised to believe that the money we make from these vocations will make us happy, in one way or another. The more you have the happier you’ll be. The more you earn the nicer your house, the flasher your car and the more exotic your holidays will become. But, the problem is that money does not make people happy. Not really. Happiness – true happiness – comes from something much deeper than the material. Some would even argue that it is a spiritual process, and I for one agree.

Children watch their parents complain about their lives. They moan about their jobs, their friends, their bills, their lack of money, and for why? These children then go on to make the exact same mistakes as their peers. Okay, they may have different jobs and live in different places, and not all do fall into this trap, but most people end up with the same complaints and their children witness this and the cycle repeats. 

I once saw a video taken from a lecture by philosopher Alan Watts and in this video Alan asked his audience, what would you do if money were no object? This video opened my eyes and made me realise just how silly and flawed this system is. In this video Alan Watts asks, why would you dedicate your life to a job you don’t like just to buy things you don’t want? Where is the sense in that? This made me ask: What makes me happy? What would I do if money were no object?

I decided that I would like to be a writer and travel the world. The world amazes me. I love being outdoors, be it up a mountain, in the ocean, in the snow, rain, or sun, I just love being outside and feeling alive. Happiness for me is being able to look upon something natural and grand and getting that feeling deep in the pit of your stomach when you realise that the world is bigger and brighter and more amazing than you ever thought possible. To experience that feeling every day would be heaven, and then to write about it and share it with others would complete me. 

To me, happiness is freedom. 

I am in pursuit of happiness, and I am gaining fast. I can see my goal, feel it almost, and this makes me happy. The money I earn from my job is not what makes me happy, it is the job itself that makes me happy. It is not the car I drive that makes me happy, but the fact that it carries my fiancée and I to wonderful places. I have met my soul mate, and she makes me happy. I am writing a book and that makes me happy. I have seen wonders of the world and they made me happy. 

What makes you happy? What do you want out of life? Do you even know, and if not how on earth do you find out? Well first you must live. By that I don’t mean get a job and earn money because that is not living that is existing. You do not do those things to benefit yourself, you do them to make other people money and because it is what you have been raised to believe is the way it should be, but it shouldn’t. Working in a job you hate is the most unnatural thing imaginable. You get one shot at life so why on earth would you waste it doing something that doesn’t make you happy? Why do something to make someone else happy? Do it for you, it should always be for you. Everything. If what makes you happy is abhorrent to others then to hell with them. Do what you want to do. Life for the now. Don’t dream of a perfect life, just open your eyes and grasp it. It won’t come to you of its own accord, it must be you that reaches out and grabs it.

I wish to one day look back at my life and smile knowing I did everything I could and enjoyed everything I did. As Alan Watt says: “It is better to live a short life that is full of the things you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.”

I’m in pursuit of happiness. Are you?

 

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Living my life for now, not for tomorrow.

I have being living my life in the same way as so many others, and it is only recently that I have come to realise the true nature and scale of my error. I have being living my life by looking to the future and not paying enough attention to the here and the now. 

 

My dream is to be a writer. Everyone who knows me is well aware of this, and some are even supportive, but I have being going about it all the wrong way. I have been looking into the future, imagining the life I want to live and doing the things I wish I could do, when really what I should have being doing was looking at my life now, and making the changes that will allow this future to become a reality.

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I realised that if I went about my life dreaming of the future I would never get there, because I would not be doing anything about it in the present, and that is a trap I believe a great many of us fall into. We sit around tables in bars and restaurants and tell each other our dreams and our hopes. We talk of the lives we’d like to live and the experiences we’d love to have, and yet once the talking is done we go back to our jobs and our homes and our lives and do nothing about it. We waste our times imagining as we sit at our desks and sort through our bills and iron our shirts that one day . . . some day, it’ll happen, but of course it never will.

The world is vast and full of dreams, and any one of us can venture out to experience it, but we don’t. Instead we dream, and sometimes dreams are a good thing. They are fundamental in fact, because without dreams we cannot alter our lives and embark on our pursuits of happiness, but sometimes we can dream too much and lose sight of the realisation that these dreams can become reality if we act. Sometimes you dream so hard that the dreams fade into insignificance.

I will not let that happen. I am engaged to a beautiful woman, I have an amazing job and together we have seen parts of the world others only dream of. Did we get there by dreaming? No, we got there by doing. I have had short stories published and I am coming to the end of my novel. Did this happen by magic? No, it happened because I acted. I moulded my life into the life I want to live, and so should you. 

The world we live on is vast. There are marvels all around us and enough stars for us all. We have to stop staring up at the sky and instead reach out and grab it.

Life is short and I intend to live mine each day at a time. Alan Watts once said that there is no future, only the present, and I couldn’t agree more. If you live each day as if it’s your last, you won’t be disappointed when that day finally comes. Image