We’ve all heard the saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.” Or was it “love?” Scholars and poets write about happiness as if it were some magical thing that just happens. Lincoln once said in a speech, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” I don’t think we can turn happiness on and off like tap water.
We can all claim that we have experienced happiness at some point or another. Maybe we got a promotion at our job. Maybe we are taking a two week trip abroad. Maybe we won the lottery. But do these “events” lead us to happiness? I propose that those are circumstances can lead to feelings of excitement and elation. But it’s not the same thing as happiness.
Over the past 40 years, like my fellow human beings, I’ve sought to “discover” happiness, thinking that some day, it would happen to me. If only I could be happy… I said that countless times. Camus wrote, “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” I never located happiness, but when I did recognize is that through daily acts of gratitude, I can be content. For me, this is my salvation from misery.
Try it yourself. Each day, think of three things that you are grateful for. When I took on this challenge at first, I went for something big like a job promotion. Then I realized those events are few and far between. I wanted to live each and every day in divine peace of mind. Now, fulfillment comes through in something as simple as watching the willow branches bough in a gentle wind or hearing one of my favorite oldies on my car radio. What I realized in utilizing appreciative practices is that now, I live in the moment. Before, I was absent, searching, and my mind was preoccupied with the future. I was always in the searching mode. Imagine a world where you google something but only have 1/100th of a chance of getting a hit. You may tend to give up pretty easily.
Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.
The here and now are what matters to me at this stage in life. I’ve found that, that through living in each moment, being aware, being present, and being alive leads to pleasure, and more importantly, delight. Happiness is not something you search for. It’s not something you feel. Happiness it the attitude of gratitude that each and every moment counts for something.