The graphic above is a couple of different ways to view the “Pursuit of Happiness” phrase in our Constitution. We are not guaranteed happiness but our right to pursue it should not be stifled by our government. That’s good and fine, but what is happiness? That is what this post is all about.
One thing I have discovered is that the term “Happiness” seems to mean something quite different than what is was during our founder’s lives. To them happiness meant having the luxaries in life like knowing where your next meal was coming from; having a roof over your head; and not having to toil eighteen hours a day just to survive. I only bring this up as a reference, as I will skip forward 200+ years and look at a more recent definition of happiness.
Happiness is something I have pursued all my life, but it always seemed just out of reach. But it seems that I ultimately been searching for the wrong thing! Let me explain.
There is a profound difference between Joy and Happiness.
Joy is a state of mind whereas Happiness is a more transitory thing that we come across from time to time. Too many of us have lost touch with even the concept of joy and the ways that it can be obtained. Joy is a state of being and not a temporary condition as happiness is.
Some pursue happiness in quick fixes like booze, drugs, addictive substances. Some pursue it with a reckless lifestyle based on seeking dangerous thrills. Some do it by getting everything they want now via credit card debt. Others try to live it vicariously through TV shows, books, and movies. When that doesn’t produce a constant state of happiness, they think they have failed.
Too many today, including me once upon a time, see happiness as a constant state of being. Instead of having periods of happiness they think they should have it 24/7 and will not be satisfied until they attain that impossible state. Discovering that happiness is the peaks of life, not the background of life, is actually the avenue to obtaining joy.
To sum all this up, having a joyful attitude trumps temporary happiness and is actually a prerequisite for it. You can’t find happiness no matter how much you pursue it if you don’t have a joyful mindset to start with. To me, it has become as simple as that.
Don’t expect happiness to be a 24/7 thing. Love the happy times but live in a joyous spirit. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn and I’m still learning it.
Tomorrow I will go into how I found joy in my life and how I work each day to keep it there.