In the Western, somewhat spoiled, individualistic, often materialistic world, we spend a lot of time trying to be happy. Striving for the things we think will finally bring us happiness. But as anyone who’s married the love of their life, graduated from college, finally made it to the country of their dreams, or got a dog can tell you, even for the most wonderful moments, the initial happiness does wear off, and every day life sets in. Often, the proximate goals we think will lead to the big ones, or that we think would just make us feel better in the meantime, are an almost immediately let down. Try losing 5 pounds, getting that new coat (that you did really need), having $5000 more in income, going on a date or whatever with a hottie. Nothing is really going to ease your soul from that list, though they might be nice things to have.
And the idea of striving towards things that will make us happy, shallow or profound, begs the question: Well, if I don’t have this (yet), how can I be happy?
Try meeting the life while you are unhappy that you just haven’t met them yet (see one Ted Mosby), and you can see how much that will compound your initial difficulties…
Try losing that first 5 pounds thinking that you can’t live with yourself until you’ve lost 5, or better yet 50. Yeah, that’s a pretty horrible quality of life you have going for you. Is the goal worth it? Even if it is, what a way to live. Stress isn’t helpful when trying to lose weight, btws.
Even better, think about having a child. Is that really going to bring the fulfillment you’re seeking? Is that gaping hole in your soul perfectly shaped for a mewling, demanding, onerous responsibility that won’t let you sleep at night?
So I think we are getting where I’m going here.
The only thing that’s going to make you feel happy, is happiness. The only thing that will bring you peace is peace. The only way you will feel joy is if you feel joy.
Let go of all those self-torturing preconditions, and be happy now. Maybe you will get all those things anyway, but maybe you won’t. Don’t punish yourself pre-emptively or despair if life seems to be giving you lemons.
After all, doesn’t the Man Upstairs have some kind of plan for us, better than we could have planned ourselves? And whether you buy that or not, isn’t it better to live in the present, accept what is, and enjoy being alive?
It seems to me that all those other things that bring happiness would be so much easier to get if you were already happy. It seems that it would take at least the pressure off, if you knew you didn’t need X to be happy. If you could just enjoy the journey, and maybe even realize the thing leading you to X, say practicing piano to become a concert pianist, is just as enjoyable as the attainment of the goal itself.
Take care of your soul, trust God, and let the rest take care of itself.
Don’t forget to be God to others, that Christ (or divinity) dwells among the least among you.
And don’t forget to say hi to the Spirit in the Sky once in a while.
PS. Try some yoga or meditation or contemplative prayer! Maybe running, maybe dancing? Anything that brings you closer to the Source, and helps you accept the present and live it fully.