Pursuit of Happiness
Benjamin Franklin said, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”
Do you tend to consistently pursue happiness or do you find yourself at times focusing on what you don’t have or lack? Our minds are naturally drawn to focus on lack and what we don’t currently have in our lives that we would like to have, so we must make a conscious effort not to focus on what we are lacking. When lack becomes the focus, unhappiness is soon to follow. We can focus on the things that are going wrong in our lives and what we don’t have, or we can focus on what’s right with our lives and what we do have. In my opinion, focusing on what’s right in our lives is the pursuit of happiness. When I go fishing and hook a fish and see that it’s about 14 inches as I’m reeling it in, I don’t cut the line and go after the 24 inch fish that I just saw in the water. By focusing on the fish I didn’t have, I end up losing the fish I had already hooked. That is what many people do, they lose focus on what they currently have, for something that is bigger or better in their minds.
We have to be careful about chasing things that we don’t have. When you make a habit of chasing things, you are likely to become unhappy because, beyond the disappointment you experience once you get them, you discover that you’ve gained them at the expense of the real things that matter in your life such as family and friends. There are times in life when it seems that everything is going well, and there are times when things are not going so well. Looking at the big picture and remembering that things in our life, both good and bad, are temporary, will often make a significant difference in how you feel. When things are going well, enjoy it, it will not last forever, if going wrong, don’t worry, this too is only temporary.
When I traveled to the West Indies, I saw some of the poorest people I have ever seen in my life, living in shacks not much bigger than my bathrooms, with dirt floors, using straw as beds, no electricity, refrigerator, or steady source of food…BUT…they were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met in my life. It was quite apparent to me that the people there focused on what they had, and the blessings they had, instead of any lack they may have been experiencing. It’s about changing your inner thoughts which, in turn, will gradually change your level of happiness. Steering away from focusing on what you lack is extremely important, I can’t stress this enough.
Take the time to notice how much you focus on lack, and change your perspective to focus on the many things that are going right in your life. Make it a conscious, consistent habit. You will begin to notice immediate significant changes in your life.
A friend of mine surprised his 16 year old daughter with the keys to a new car. When she saw the car, her face showed great disappointment and her actions followed as she threw the keys across the room, while telling her dad that he knew that wasn’t the car she wanted. When he called and told me this, I couldn’t believe her actions. My friend went on to tell me that he returned the car and replaced it with nothing. Can you imagine how she felt? If only she had focused on what she had instead of what she didn’t have. When our life is ruled by our sense of lack, we’re no longer in control and our desires consume us. Be sure not to get stuck in a perpetual state of lack by not acknowledging the perfection of the present moment.
An old Irish Proverb says, “I moaned and complained once because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet, and I bowed my head with shame for my complaints.”