Happiness is something that we all strive for, we all search for, and we all long for. Yet it often eludes us for large chunks of our lives and there is one fundamental reason for this.
The reason we struggle to achieve happiness in our lives is because of the very quest for happiness itself. It is because we see happiness as our goal that we do not find it.
As the late psychoanalyst and philosopher Viktor Frankl says:
Happiness must ensue. It cannot be pursued. It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness. The more one makes happiness an aim, the more he misses the aim.
Frankl continues to say that happiness is merely a by-product of one’s self-transcendence. In other words, when we are dedicated to something other than ourselves – a cause we believe in or a person we love – happiness occurs naturally, spontaneously, and without any need to chase it.
Here’s a great 3 minute interview of Frankl expressing these very thoughts:
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Now, you may disagree with Frankl and believe that happiness can grow from things other than dedication to a cause or interpersonal love, but the principle of letting happiness follow on from something else is a strong one.
Striving for happiness is a bit like desiring to be rich and expecting to wake up one morning with millions of dollars in the bank. Wealth does not miraculously appear like this; wealth it is merely a by-product of hard work, endeavor, planning, frugality, and a bit of risk taking.
So, stop trying to chase happiness – don’t make it your goal in life. Instead, do the things from which happiness will arise naturally.
What do you think? Can you pursue happiness in and of itself, or does happiness follow from other aspects of life? Leave a comment below.