The Secret to Happiness
“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” – Henry David Thoreau
Happiness is a gift we all want. Smiling and laughing feels a lot better than sinking into a well of bad feelings. Pursuing happiness seems a worthy goal. By pursuing happiness, though, sometimes we end up on the opposite side of the street where we stare across the way at the shining sun, at the happy smiles on others, at the spring in someone’s step and think, ‘why don’t I feel that way? How can I feel that way?’
In our desperate search to figure out why we’re not smiling like we just won the lottery, laughing like Ellen just told us the funniest joke, or walking as if a happy tune was playing in our heads, we can lose our ability to find the happy source.
We might state “I want to be happy”. We repeat this as we continue to stare off in envy at others who seem to be thriving on a happy note. We wonder what they drank or ate that morning that got them off to such a happy start. Out of frustration, their smiles might even start to piss us off.
Curious, we keep searching for the happiness. We wrack our brains willing happiness to enter only to be disappointed when we show up empty-handed at the middle of the day without it still. Why can’t we find it? Shouldn’t stating the mantra ‘I want to be happy’ be enough to achieve such a goal?
I don’t think it is. Happiness is a state of mind. States of mind are nearly impossible to control. A goal should be something we can take action on and inch closer to with each step. Thus, becoming happy cannot be a direct goal because it’s a state of mind.
So where does this leave us? Are we supposed to just wallow in a state of flux on those days we wake up on the wrong side of the bed feeling apathetic and lost without our happy vibe?
I’m no expert on happiness, but I do have a trick that seems to work on those days when I get out of bed feeling a little cranky. I stop, breathe, and focus in on something I enjoy doing (like oil painting, exercising, meditating, walking my dogs) or shifting my focus to others (helping someone with a project, smiling at a stranger, talking with an elderly person, playing with a child), and by doing this, happiness indirectly finds me.
Suddenly, the happy vibe threads itself through my system and hangs out on my shoulder, sitting in my peripheral, allowing me to enjoy the unfolding of joy in simple things like the beauty of the sun’s rays, the smile on a stranger’s face, the laughter of a child at play.
Happiness isn’t something you can will into being. It’s something that naturally occurs when we let go of forcing it and simply turn to other things and wait for it to reveal itself in its own beautiful way.
Wishing you the very best,
Suzie Carr, novelist