The title phrase can be filled in with many words: some obscure, like octopi or diving for pearls; some sentimental, like world peace or a Nicholas Sparks novel-style romance; but most people would fill it in with things like fame, fortune, or the ultimate goal, happiness. Even when people pursue those other things, they generally do it because it brings them some sort of happiness. The question is though: are they actually happy? How many of the people who pursue happiness actually acquire it? Does pursuing happiness actually bring happiness, or should we all try to pursue something else? Here in the US, we have a right to pursue happiness, and that is truly unique, but is it leading us in the wrong direction?
I’ll give you a picture here. Let’s say you work in a business, but you want a promotion. All your life, you’ve dreamed of doing this job, and you believe that it will bring you real happiness. So, you sacrifice a few weekends here and there, but it’s okay, because the end result will be good. You finally have the job you’ve been wanting for so long, and victory tastes sweet. You are truly happy.
Or are you?
No, now that you’ve gotten this job, you realize that you actually wanted the job one position higher. So, you keep working, maybe sacrificing a few more weekends, but once again, you tell yourself that it will be fine, and you get the new job. And NOW you’re happy, right? Not likely. Now that you’ve started this journey upward, you just want to keep going higher and higher. “It’s right to dream big, right?” You say, but in actuality, your big dreams have wrecked the people around you. “WHAT?!?” You say. Yup. It’s true. There’s a really good song that describes exactly what I’m trying to illustrate here. “American Dream” by Casting Crowns is that song, and you really really REALLY need to listen to it. Here, I’m even giving you a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DumlIIHSrsQ There’s one part in the song where it says “Now he works all day and cries alone at night. It’s not getting any better. Looks like he’s running out of time.” As listeners, we say, “What went wrong with this guy’s story? All he was doing was dreaming big. What’s wrong with that?”
Happiness is great, I’m not saying you should go out and quit your job, or flunk out of college so that you can gain “real happiness” ‘cause that’s what some girl said to do on her blog. NO! I’m just saying that happiness comes in a form that most people aren’t really expecting. And I believe that that source is not about serving oneself, but serving others or some higher purpose. Just think about it.
As soon as we stop putting the focus on ourselves, we are free to love other people and enjoy true happiness. By following the American Dream and pursuing our own happiness, we focus too much on our goal, until it almost becomes unrecognizable. It’s like those parts in movies where the camera is hyper-focused on the object in the foreground and then slowly unfocuses. But, when people take the focus off of themselves, they are free to see how beautiful and glorious this planet is. It’s the camera unfocusing, so that we see the background in sharp details. Because, try as you might, you will never be the most beautiful thing or person in the world. It just won’t happen. You will never be the best thing that ever happened to the world, so stop trying. But once you realize that, life is great! You are instantly freed to do what you were made to do: to love. We are creatures of love. No other species has quite the capability for love as humans. Even introverts, like me, enjoy being with people. When we take the focus off of ourselves, we can both love and come to our full potential. And through that, we find happiness.