Saturday, November 12, 2011
STOP SEEKING HAPPINESS
Butterfly of Happiness, Jamestown, NC
There’s an old saying that to find happiness, stop seeking it and it will find you. But even our founding fathers left us with the legacy of a pursuit of life, liberty and happiness for this great experiment. King Solomon was one of the wisest and richest men to ever walk over this planet. He gave it a shot and this is his conclusion from The Message translation of Ecclesiastes; “I said to myself, ‘Let's go for it—experiment with pleasure, have a good time!’ But there was nothing to it, nothing but smoke. What do I think of the fun-filled life? Insane! Inane! My verdict on the pursuit of happiness? Who needs it? With the help of a bottle of wine and all the wisdom I could muster, I tried my level best to penetrate the absurdity of life. I wanted to get a handle on anything useful we mortals might do during the years we spend on this earth.”
Wouldn’t seeking happiness be one of our most worthy causes in life? New psychological studies suggest not. And before any of these studies were published, Henry David Thoreau perhaps summed up the pursuit best by writing, “Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit on your shoulder”. What other things? Well for openers, new studies show that if we focus too much on attaining ultimate happiness and it inevitably doesn’t always materialize, we will end up unhappy. It seems to follow another basic precept in life that anything lived in excess will probably cause problems. It appears that folks who are simply “pretty happy” end up with above average income and knowledge. The perpetual Pollyanna seems to be less effective at recognizing the pitfalls in life through their rose colored glasses. Actually, negative feelings and emotions are an integral part of the human drama. They alert us to reflect and examine our life for positive change. For instance, it’s also been said that if we harbor bitterness, happiness will find another place to dock. Once we shift our focus from seeking happiness for ourselves and seek to bring joy into others lives, a miraculous thing begins to happen---happiness softly lights on our shoulder!