The pursuit of happiness

Ever since the beginning of time, humans have searched for what brings them “happiness.” Each person is unique with different desires and needs. What makes one person happy may not even enter into the equation of another person’s happiness.

Why is this so hard to find for some people?

Most people are haunted by this need to be fulfilled without knowing exactly what it is that gives them this satisfaction. So, they go on a lifetime journey filled with various experimentation in relationships, careers, money, power. When they can’t find what they are searching for, they grow frustrated and disgusted and end up “settling” for what is in front of them. Yet, the rest of their life is filled with “what if?”

Once upon a time …

In my teenage years, I wrote a short story about two calves. Their mother died after giving birth, but she gave them some last words, “all you need is grass.” The two set out in search of this thing called “grass.” Without a mother, they did not have a food supply like most young calves. They were not taught how to gather food on their own. They were lost, but they knew that they needed to find “grass” and everything would be okay.

One of the calves grew weak and could not go on. Before he died, he looked out across the vast landscape. He finally recognized that the green all around them was this thing they had been searching for … this thing called “grass.” He died before he could share this with his brother. And, the search continued …

Humans have more needs than “grass,” but the message I was trying to tackle with this story is that the ingredients for happiness are all around us. We just have to learn to recognize what happiness is, so that we can wrap it in our arms forever once we stumble upon it.

In the words of one of my favorite musicians, Patrick Wolf, “If you never lose, how are you gonna know when you won? If it’s never dark, then how are you gonna know the sun when it shines?” As humans, it is important for us to feel pain, heartache and agony. Without ever experiencing these intense devastations in life, we can’t understand what pure happiness feels like. We search and search, but it is through some of life’s most unpleasant experiences that we actually learn what happiness really is.

You have all heard it before …

When you are going through a particularly painful experience in life, everyone gives you the same dumb phrase, “everything happens for a reason.” Then, they feed you some crap about how your life is going to be better for what you have been through, and how you will be stronger and more spirited because of your hardship.

Do you know what? They are right. In these cliche lines, there is truth. In painful experiences, humans grow and evolve. We learn from our mistakes, even if more slowly than we like. We become better people through loss and devastation. We have more reason to come to terms with what is really important to us in our short lives on this Earth.

Our emotions …

In order to feel joy and complete happiness, you have to be able to experience all emotions on a deep spectrum. The people who can’t experience deep feelings are the people who lose in life. They may block pain from their lives, but they will also never know how wonderful life can be and how deep and spiritual this journey of living can be.

The next time …

For those of you going through a loss of some sort in your life or another type of painful experience, let yourself fully feel the pain. Explore what it means to you. Discover what you could have done differently. Understand the significance of the pain and use it to help you become a better person. If someone was cruel to you, don’t be counterproductive and try to figure out why. Not all people are alike. Just figure out what you need to work on in yourself to protect your heart from pain. The key is to never forget the hurt and to learn from it so that it does not happen again and again. But, you also must be willing to let it go. Forgive and move on. Never hold a grudge. Most importantly, never let someone hurt you enough to destroy you. Humans have the amazing ability to rebuild in even the darkest hour.

Be open to happiness …

Don’t shut out happiness just because you were hurt. You need to live each day like it was your first and go into each hour like it was your last. You never want to regret anything in life. Experience everything and anything that you can. When you are lying on your deathbed, you want to know that you led a happy life.

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