Today, I was walking through the streets of my city and hummed the melody of a song by the artist Kid Cudi, as I had listened to its catchy tune just a few minutes earlier on the radio. I was barely thinking about the songtext, but as I remembered that the song was called “Pursuit of Happiness” I started thinking a bit more about its fantastic title. Isn’t our whole life a pursuit of happiness? Isn’t it the quest for fulfillment and joy what motivates and empowers us to get up and to give our very best, day after day? A lot of the things we do in life boil down to our desire to be perfectly happy with our lives and ourselves. The “pursuit of happiness” is even an unalienable right, written down in the Declaration of Independence, along with the words “liberty” and “life”.
Happiness is the Foundation of Life
Now, let’s think about it this way… Happiness can be seen as the foundation and base of the building we call life. When you are perfectly happy with your life you can safely build your whole life on this trustworthy basement and draw your future life on the foundation consisting of the most precious element in life that exists: happiness. Whatever it is that you aspire; its accomplishment will allow you to reach an even higher level of happiness that you would have thought exists, as you didn’t aspire it with the sole purpose to find happiness/fulfillment by its accomplishment. In this case, your inner happiness is not dependent on external influences and does not rely on these factors to be maintained on a constant high level. This also implies that – if one of these external factors suddenly breaks away – it won’t affect your happiness; at least not heavily.
Nevertheless, if you aren’t happy with the life you are living in this very moment – then there exists no reliable base you can build your life on in the future. (Please don’t get me wrong, no one’s life is perfect and there is always room for improvements, but happiness is often a point of view!). All the efforts to establish a trustworthy basis [that will consist of happiness in the future], by trying to amass riches, “go for the greens”, pursue power or tangibles will eventually fail, as everything that was built on this non-existent basement will collapse sooner or later.
After all, you cannot build a house without having a proper foundation that can endure the intense weight – especially not if you hope that by starting to build a house the foundation “will come all naturally”. That’s not the way it works, not in terms of architecture and not in regards to happiness. The very same applies to the pursuit of happiness; true happiness cannot be “obtained” by the attempt to become extraordinarily wealthy and powerful or by collecting diplomas, degrees, partners, shiny cars, houses, and other tangibles.
If you aren’t happy with the things you already have if you cannot value what you already achieved and if you do not feel grateful for the things you were given in your life; then no money in the world will be able to replace this inner feeling of emptiness with pure happiness. (Why else do you think that you often hear wealthy people speaking about the “gilded cage” they are caught in?).
I hope I’ve expressed the above-named metaphor (happiness = the foundation of the building of your life) in an understandable way, but I really consider it was an excellent way to illustrate my point.
Something that so many people mistakenly try is to pursue happiness by attempting to collect tangibles, wealth and other things – in the hope that the accomplishment of these things will make them finally happy, only to awake one day out of their never-ending race for happiness, to realize that happiness does not necessarily depend on external factors (such as money). It depends on what you make out of your life and how you estimate your life. As I’ve already mentioned, happiness is a point of view and a matter of opinion.
Throughout our whole life we focus on the things we wish we had, rather than valuing what we have and being grateful for what we already achieved in life.
Lottery winners are an interesting example (besides celebrities, actors, musicians) for people who really wanted to “become rich quick”, after all, that’s the reason they filled out that lottery ticket. One should think that when the intended objective is achieved (winning millions of $) these people turn out to be the happiest people on earth and living an exciting life from this point onwards. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as we know from past experience (Top 10 Lottery Tragedies). When I read through some of the destinies of some of these people I think that they would have been better off without the money, or as William Post (who landed the $16 million jackpot) said, “I was much happier when I was broke”.
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Photo by former Flickr member Ellie, released under CC.
Is happiness the foundation of your life?