The Pursuit of Happiness

April 22, 2015

I’m on the pursuit of happiness.
I know everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold.

Someone, Abraham Lincoln, I think said that you need to “make your own happiness.” And I agree with Honest Abe, but I think some of us have an idea about what it should look like. Happiness is not a given, it’s not constant. But she’s a loyal friend who always returns after a cold and lonely winter. We love and appreciate her, because her presence is always fleeting.

But we’re on pilgrimage to a Mecca that doesn’t exist – at least not in the way we envision it. We so badly want that Hallmark Channel version of euphoria and I’m going to need you to snap out of it.

Your life is not a movie, it’s better.

I’ll be fine once I get it.
I’ll be good.

When we spend our lives trying to find our passion or “find our bliss” (gag), we tend to ignore the abundance that is already surrounding us. Yesterday I was looking at a picture of a dear friend’s baby thinking, “Wow, that 9-month-old has great posture. I wish my core was that strong.” Really. Envious of a baby, a beautiful tiny human and the joy of my bff’s life. The shame.

We’ve all been there. Falling in the trap of  I wish I had _____. If only I had ______. I’d be happy if I could just achieve _______.  We have this idea that we’ll finally be satisfied once we fulfill our craving. But I know just as well as you do, that when I eat one piece of pizza, it just leaves me wanting another. (And cake, definitely cake.)

The wanting is natural, but it shouldn’t keep you from enjoying what you’ve got now. Take a moment, look around. Pick out three things that make you smile. Pick out three more things for which you’re thankful. Apply this concept liberally. No need to rinse, just repeat.

Tell me what you know about dreams, dreams
Tell me what you know about night terrors, nothin’
You don’t really care about the trials of tomorrow
Rather lay awake in a bed full of sorrow

Humans were built to dream, to want more. This is what makes me fall in love with strangers every single day. I love your determination and joy, your get-up-and-go. As a career counselor, I talk to so many people who “don’t have it figured out.” Honey, none of us really do. We know that comparison is the thief of joy (I think Lincoln said this, too. Wait, no, it was some other president). So don’t worry about what the rest of the world is doing. Bask in that abundance we talked about, begin to listen to the whispers.

What keeps you up at night? What do you rant to your partner about at the dinner table? What frustrates you beyond belief? What ideas do you have to fix those problems? What activities give you the most joy?

When these questions aren’t keeping you up at night, dream big.

People told me slow my roll I’m screaming out f*ck that. Imma do just what I want lookin’ ahead no turnin’ back. If I fall if I die know I lived it to the fullest – Kid Cudi (not Abe Lincoln)

The hustle starts with those nagging questions. When you can’t take it anymore, you’ll start to act on your curious urges – and to go back to our analogy, you’ll finally eat the freaking pizza. Because, you know, life is too short not to eat the pizza.

Some of the most interesting people I know are forward thinkers and problem solvers. They just can’t stop tinkering until they’ve figured out a solution. They’re often met with criticism and observations like, “you’re working too hard” or “don’t worry so much about it.” What the critics don’t realize, is that you love this shit.

The key to pursuing happiness isn’t something we can find in a Disney movie, although the Lion King makes me pretty darn happy. It’s something that needs to be worked at, and it’s a state of mind that we shouldn’t give up on. Go on, my friends. Enjoy your life’s riches, be grateful, dream big, and hustle until you don’t want to hustle anymore.

And above all else, eat that second piece of pizza.

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Quotes from: “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi (Cover by Lissie)

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