“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued is always beyond your grasp; but, which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne – as seen in the newspaper cartoon Nancy.
Every now and then the daily cartoons in the newspapers have something that catches my attention and today was one of those days. The cartoon strip Nancy, which has been around it seems forever (with the Nancy character never aging one might add) sometimes has some very profound little thoughts embedded, as it did today with the quote above from Nathaniel Hawthorne.
It is certainly true that we spend quite a bit of our time in the pursuit of what we think is going to be happiness or things that we think will make us happy. Also true is the fact that the happiness that we pursue often seems able to flit away at the last moment and elude us. Perhaps because it was a mirage of happiness to begin with, a figment of our imagination of what happiness is all about.
True happiness does not come packaged as things – possessions, property, money or even position or power. One cannot earn happiness, although hard work on, and sacrifice for, the right things may result in a payoff of happiness. Happiness often comes packaged in joy – the joy of having done the right things for the right reasons and having seen the results. Happiness is often a shared experience with the most significant others in our lives – our life partners. It is possible to sit quietly and have happiness alight upon you, but it is some much better if the “you” is the two of you together experiencing the moment.
Happiness is a quiet delight that often occurs in those unguarded and unrehearsed moments in life when you have just relaxed and let go and surrendered to the moment. To be able to enjoy the moment with each other, without pretext or pressures or any other intrusions is often when the butterfly of happiness lands. Happiness oft occurs not only when you don’t expect it; but, because you don’t expect it. It is not something that you will to happen; it is something that happens because you are not in control. It happens to you, not because of you.
So, how do you achieve happiness? What things must you do to be happy? That’s just it. There is no magic formula that you can pursue. My advice is to look outside of yourself. Look around you. There are things that you can see need to be done. You can see them. Do something about them. There are people with needs everywhere. You see them. Don’t just ignore them; help them. Do what is right, Do what you can. Do and do and do until you are exhausted and then sit down quietly and let happiness land on you. You will begin to understand the biblical phrase “the joy that exceeds all understanding.” That’s the big butterfly that you should hope alights upon you someday.
Have a great and happy weekend. Let your butterfly land!