Is Pursuing Happiness the Smart Thing to Do?

See Psychology Today Article
By Alexei Orlov

Oleksandr Pidvalnyi/Pexels
Source: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi/Pexels

In the quest for happiness, I have come to understand it as a fleeting emotion, as fluid as tidal waters. Rather than looking outward for nirvana, I should instead seek a better sense of self. In the end, I know for sure that the only measurement that matters is my own. I do not give myself permission to measure my worth against the earthly achievements of others; that is as superfluous as it is harmful.

I have walked through many passages of life and never have I met anyone who is completely and absolutely in a constant state of euphoria or happiness. That being said, I am blessed for having met a rare few who despite the noise of the world and the scars and blooms of their own experiences, are truly at one with themselves. It is they who find the closest state to pure bliss.

Every time I have met such a person, they seemed to have the same traits:

  • they were remarkable listeners
  • they read a great deal and reflected even more
  • they walked away from the chatter of every day regularly, sometimes for an hour, other times much longer
  • they were always thankful for something even when their plight seemed unbearable to an outsider
  • they admired simplicity;
  • they gave space and time to others;
  • and most importantly, they sought honesty from within before searching for it in others.

I hope I shall find this balance of the wisdoms one day.

From where I stand, those that deny the varied degrees of darkness that molest their minds and sometimes their very souls—always seeking a distant light, always measuring always desiring—make victims of themselves. There is that terrible saying that goes: “the happier my friends the more I die.” Trying to measure one’s happiness by the rule of others can be dangerous.

Most times the best of things are right there with us, if only we did less reaching out and more listening to the voice within.

I have come to believe that it is important to see happiness not as something that is an additional benefit but an inextricable part of existence; what we value and our values are often not the same thing. There is no constant state of mind.

Another’s perceived success should not be allowed to serve as the ultimate measure of our own worth or happiness! How would one really know what history remains in their quest? Do you know where the bones may lie, or what tears have fallen?

Victor Freitas/Pexels
Source: Victor Freitas/Pexels

To my mind, any sense of enduring happiness is much more about benevolent values, things that don’t disarm or harm. A person’s fame or another’s wealth does not make him special, just different. I am different and unique and so are all others. Whether one is very public or considers themselves an unknown is of no real consequence.

Only you—and you alone—know who you really are. You have the power of self. Social measures are a man-made delusion. Social strata are pretty much medieval. Human knowledge: a knowledge of self and one’s effects upon others is what truly matters.

It is incredible how often we can watch without seeing, hear without listening, speak without reflection and judge without understanding. Blind assumption is the mother of all disaster. Space, reflection, and listening to the whispers of those who care as much as your own inner voice are your true and important companions.

The pursuit of happiness is like trying to catch feathers in the wind; it’s a whimsical folly and will not last forever. We will have many spikes and many valleys.

George Desipris/Pexels
Source: George Desipris/Pexels

From the moment we have basic cognitive power we are taught how to react to and assimilate things. I have more chance to stay balanced, with less teetering—even in this world of uncontrollable wonders—if I listen to myself and am open to constant discovery. If I have the courage to reshape and to retreat, I can then spring forward with an open mind and spirit.

In the search to belong we are all too often lost while surrounded by many. Being part of the madding crowd is, I guess, a part of most of our lives and we have to deal with it. One can’t just simply get off the proverbial bus while it speeds along the motorway.

But that does not mean for one moment that you can’t step away from the invading noise. You’re only good to others when first you take care of yourself.

Search for the right thing—a sense of self and of things that you value that will keep you appeased even when outside conditions are rough. Perfection is best found in embracing our imperfections: We are none of us perfect but like an aged oak table: gnarled and blemished but still standing as something utterly specific.

Your sense of worth and your sense of self belong entirely to you. The only place to look for them is within. To search for these essential feelings is the most important work many of us will do, and a continual state of being. This is in and of itself a happy state.

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