Happiness is….

From “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert:

I keep remembering one of my Guru’s teachings about happiness. She says that people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you’re fortunate enough. But that’s not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will leak away your innate contentment.

The problem is…do you even know what makes you happy? Travel the world looking for it? Well, what if you don’t know what it is, Einsten?? What then?

You know why they say Denmark is the happiest country in the world?  It’s because they don’t expect to be happy, so when things go their way, they’re pleasantly surprised by it!  Maybe I was Danish in a previous life, because that’s my attitude now.  I’d rather have low expecations than to have to deal with disappointment.  Reverse psychology, I suppose.

But do we even have to be happy?  Is that why we’re here?  Surely there’s a greater purpose to life than to achieve a state of happiness.  It all seems so selfish to me, to put that much effort to become happy.  Expending (or storing) one ounce of energy to do what thousands have already failed at pursuing is not my idea of living a good life. 

I’m not saying I don’t want to be happy.  I just don’t like the idea that I’ve missed out on an integral part of life if I don’t find happiness.  Makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me, which there isn’t.  I’m perfectly normal(ish).

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~ by Binibining Beth on September 3, 2008.

4 Responses to “Happiness is….”

  1. Interesting post. I think we kind of interchange happiness for contentment. You may have fleeting moments of happiness, but a lifetime of either fulfillment or discontent. The moments of happiness may make a fulfilling life all the more satisfying or a life of discontent bearable. I guess what I’m saying is that I wouldn’t discount happiness and that I don’t think it’s selfish to seek it as long as it’s not at someone else’s expense. I guess what else I’m saying is maybe enjoy your moments of happiness without worrying about where they’ll come from next or whether or not you deserve to have them. You don’t strike me as the type to seek them at the expense of others.

  2. You don’t HAVE to be happy but who wouldn’t want to be? Regardless of what definition you give it… But what matters is that your definition is yours alone not one dictated by others. And, yeah, you could call it selfish but ask someone who dedicates their entire time giving to others and ask them if they don’t glean some feelings of happiness in helping others. Besides, happiness is contagious… it’s something that can be spread around and it’s got to start somewhere, doesn’t it?

  3. i think we’ve been reading the same book missy – geography of bliss?

    let’s discuss.

    and i like the differences between joy and happiness … good topic.

  4. You write that actively trying to be happy is not what you’d consider a good life. Why must those things be mutually exclusive? Can’t living a good life make you happy? Happiness isn’t a separate thing and, fortunately, only you get to decide on the definition.

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