The Pursuit of Happiness is Taking Your Joy!

By Kilondra Davis

To think that the pursuit of happiness can lead to joy depletion is contradictory. It just doesn’t seem to make any sense! How can the strive for bliss be the cause of a lack in happiness, when the goal is to be happy?? Thnich Nhat Hanh once said, “many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive”. The push for gratification becomes the equivalent of going through the motions of life. The pursuit can lead to a lack of joy because it holds your focus and draws majority of your attention to the thing(s) you are reaching to have to achieve this happiness.
Many of us may have different items we’re reaching for. These things may include money, weight loss/gain, approval, car, friends, job/career, love, house, etc. As we chase happiness in this way, it inevitably results in neglecting what you have. It allows your contentment to be contingent on something that is not definite. The emotions and thoughts of “I need … to be happy” and “once I have …then I will be happy” plagues the opportunities to obtain true happiness. This is done by discounting what is already in your grasps.

Happiness is not contingent upon the circumstances and/or physical substances that are around you. It not a life of perfection and constant sunshine. It is not something that can be reached for or obtained through circumstantial or physical possessions. It is the feeling or showing pleasure of contentment. Happiness is the act of accepting where you are in life and enjoying what you have through intentional choices to relish in your life’s moments.

Tips on How to Be Content:
With that being said, it leaves the question … “if the pursuit of happiness takes joy, how does one become happy?”. The desire and goal of happiness is not what diminishes your joy. It is the neglect, discounting, and ill placed contingency that is often accompanied on the pursuit that depletes your joy. The wish to be happy is something that many of us have. Making it understandable as to why we embark on the pursuit of happiness. The task of being happy is not an easy one, but with practice and intentionality, you can be happy. To help you be happy, here are some tips on how to be content:

• Living in the Present: By focusing on the past, future, what we don’t have, or what is going wrong, we neglect and discount the present, what we do have, and what is going right. Our perspective impacts our happiness and by focusing on the present, we allow ourselves to be free and enjoy what is currently going on in life. Ask yourself, what are you focusing on?

• Being Grateful for What You Have: Being grateful for what you have, aids in shifting your focus onto what you do have and motivates you to use it. It allows you to see the value in your family, friends, relationship, health, etc. and produces an appreciation that transforms into contentment.

• Being Reflective: Take the time to reflect on what is going on in your life. Allow yourself space to decompress. This provides space for your mind to breath and allows you to be more able to be grateful and enjoy the things that are around you. Also, be honest with yourself about what is going on in your life. If you are upset, then allow yourself to be. Using the tools discussed in the previous blog “My Emotions Are Everywhere” can help with this.

• Stopping the Comparison: Comparing yourself to others shifts the focus back to what you don’t have and creates doubt and discouragement about the self. Instead of creating opportunities for satisfaction, it creates thoughts and feelings of “never being enough”.

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 sit softly on your shoulders…
– Thoreau

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