New Year's Resolutions & The Pursuit of Happiness

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Amy - who was briefly introduced to you in my Changing Seasons blog post - sent me this lovely note as a story for January.  I love firstly, that she wrote it so beautifully and second, that it is absolutely true.  It is close to my own thoughts on life and striving for all things wonderful. I was recently reorganizing my office (as we all are doing the first week of January, no doubt) and found a book of ideas that I started when I moved here eight years ago. Interestingly, feeling pleasure and gratitude in the moment was forefront in my thoughts and I need to be reminded to keep it there now!  We lose sight of the moment in our constant pursuit of the end...thank you Amy for sharing this story and writing yours!

While reading the article, “How to Break Into the New Year: The 36 Resolutions that Actually Matter for 2014” on Elite Daily recently, number 30 particularly resonated with me: “Be happy. Life is not about the pursuit of happiness.” I agree whole-heartedly and have learned the truth of this the hard way. Life is not, nor will never be, about the pursuit of happiness. Hearing that phrase alone conjures images of the proverbial horse chasing after the carrot - almost there, but never quite reaching what it is they are working towards. I will admit that for the majority of my life, this was how I was living - albeit completely unaware of it at the time - meaning that some of the biggest pinnacles in my life, things and moments that should have made me the happiest, in fact, did not. 


“Be happy. Life is not about the pursuit of happiness.” 


Attending school overseas or purchasing my first house should have been major highlights after having spent so much time working towards them. It has taken me years to figure out exactly why that is that they were instead the opposite. After all, they were things I wanted, didn’t I? I have come to believe that part of the problem was getting too wrapped up in the goal, in working towards something, rather than having a true appreciation for the present moment. How many of us think: I will be happy when...I get into the school I want...get the job I want...meet the man/woman of my dreams...perpetually postponing our joy to a later date and time. Had I paid more attention to the process, to the minute details of my life leading up to these major events, would I have realized that maybe it wasn’t in fact what I wanted at all? Or would it have lessened that feeling of emptiness, of ‘now what’ or ‘is this all there is’ because I would have understood that reaching the goal isn’t the be all and end all? Achievements and goals are important, but they should not be the sole measure of one’s happiness. 

Instead, now I try to live my life in the present, appreciating the small things, because sometimes the small things turn out to be the really big things. It sounds so simple, or maybe even cliche, but it takes practice to be able to maintain that kind of mindset and not get caught up with all the distractions life brings. Old habits do die hard after-all. In the end, I do not want to sit around and wait for someone or something to make me happy, quite simply, I want to just be happy.

As far as resolutions go, I think that one tops my list.