I have spent half my life looking for happiness in the wrong places. I think most of us are like that. I don't think it's our fault, we live in a society that is constantly reinforcing the idea that if we only get this or get that then we will be happy. Happiness is sold to us as a destination. A result of hard work and careful planning and sacrifice. This is wrong and our fruitless pursuit has ended with a generation feeling empty, frustrated and alone. It doesn't have to be like that.
I know that sounds extreme but when the leading cause of death in men in our country under forty is suicide then we need to wake up and realise they sold us a lie. You can not find lasting happiness in that car, that house or that promotion. Happiness is not a commodity to be bought and sold. It is available for us all, now and forever.
And do I listen? Hell no. I still chase happiness in the wrong places on a daily basis. I still opt for instant, quick fix gratification over spiritual growth any day. It's insanity. Over and over I have told myself if I can only get here I will be happy, only to reach the goal and feel more empty and restless than I did before. In all honestly, some of the biggest career achievements have almost been my darkest days. The realisation that this wasn't it. It didn't feel like they said it would feel. It's devastating. The one difference now is that I am slowly becoming aware of my own insanity and working on taking certain actions to change.
This leads me to a beautiful story a friend sent me the other day out of the blue. Unusual and unexpected I almost dismissed it but I have come to understand that sometimes it pays to listen to what the universe may be telling you. Call that grace or merely a beautiful coincidence, it doesn't really matter. I have learnt recently that words can become the biggest stumbling blocks to meaningful experience.
The story goes like this. In 1922 Albert Einstein was touring Japan. At his hotel, a bellboy delivered him a message. Einstein didn't have a tip so he scribbled down a few notes and handed them back as a warming gesture. What he wrote down was his 'Theory Of Happiness'. It said:
“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.'
Words from a man of unimaginable intelligence and foresight but most of us I'm sure have never heard it. I have made a few really big life changes recently. I don't think it will add value to this post to go into detail but they were made with sacrifice but for the better good of my own mental health and quality of life. To read these words at such a pivotal moment in my life blew me away.
Think about it. When are we ever told that happiness can be found in anything modest and calm. Our society is constantly pushing the pursuit of success at any cost. Of course this is not necessarily a bad thing. This drive is what allows us as a human race to evolve and develop at such a fantastic rate. This drive is vital to our very existence and material evolution. It isn't however the answer to personal contentment, fulfilment and happiness.
Jim Carey once said 'I wish everyone could experience what it's like to be famous so they can realise it's not the answer'. That quote is thrown about a lot at the moment but I think it's important none the less.
We must, and I include myself in this, stop looking for happiness in the wrong places. One of the brightest men to every walk the earth is saying the exact opposite to what we are sold and I urge us to listen. I have and my life has improved greatly.
If you are reading this and are struggling I want you to know that you have everything you need right at this moment to be happy. Success does not define your worth. Happiness is not earn't. It will not come from working longer weeks, seeing your family less or pushing your body well past it's limits. Happiness is not a destination. It is here now. Don't spent your life chasing something that already belongs to you.
"The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself."
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