“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy’” – Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning.
Everybody wants to be happy. Every other article is about finding happiness, how to be happy and creating your own happiness. It is kind of sad to see how many of us struggle with the notion of happiness. What is happiness anyway? How do we even know what makes us happy? Yet we spend our lives chasing everything that has once made us happy and what we think will make us happy in the long term – friends, parties, short trips, and money, a big house, a fancy car and flight tickets at our disposal.
For someone in their 20’s, a good life means being caught between music festivals, the open road and the next rave. Doesn’t sound bad at all does it? Everybody in our generation wants to quit their job, pack a bag and tour the world, including those who has landed their dream job still wishes to do so. It seems that everybody of our age has the same hobbies – music festivals, parties, and wanderlust.
We are torn between making a name for ourselves in this world, and leaving it all behind to live out of a bag. Happiness now, or happiness in the future becomes the question. In our attempt to gain both, we slog away everyday while waiting for the weekend to come around to jump in the car and drive away. In the process we begin to live from weekend to weekend, and from one trip to the next. We may even pack up our bags and hit the road for a while until the money runs out.
As Viktor Frankl explains:-
This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.”
The truth is the pursuit of happiness is never ending and leaves us feeling hollow instead, because happiness is temporary and short-lived. In the process of chasing happiness we forget to live day to day. Our days are spent in reminiscence of the last trip; last party and browsing through photos of others doing exactly that. That doesn’t sound like a very satisfying life, does it? One day, the money runs out and the friends disappear, then what? The travel gets tiring and we’ve outgrown the parties, then what? Life still expects something of you; it is still waiting for something. A life in pursuit of meaning is a life better spent, and a meaningful life is often associated with happiness. Happiness is not something to be chased, but simply felt.