“Essential to the pursuit of happiness is knowing when you’ve caught it.” – from the Arlo ‘N’ Janice cartoon.
I saw that little saying in a recent newspaper that carries the Arlo “N” Janice daily cartoon strip and thought that it really made an important point. My wife and I often sit out on our big, screened-in front porch and comment on the fact that our lives are good and that we find happiness in what we have. I look back on the many years in my life of pursuing happiness, most of them looking for the wrong things, and realize that my true happiness was right there beside me for the entire journey. The rest of the efforts were to achieve things or buy things that, in the long run, were meaningless and fell away over time. Now, I will that our great old house in our wonderful little village is a major contributor to our happiness; but it too is just a possession. It is sharing our love and our lives that bring true happiness for us both.
For most people it takes quite a while in life to stop and look at what you have and perhaps find that you
already have achieved happiness by finding your life mate. I suspect that it is because we get so much orientation in our youth that equates happiness to achievements, success, money and other measurements. We convince ourselves that we’ll be happy only if we get that raise or promotion, buy that car or other toy, marry the best looking person, go to the best events, achieve the highest score, win the tournament or whatever other things are out there dangling and shiny in front of us. We use terms like “goals” to define what we
think will bring us happiness; we set them and pursue them and then set new ones. We jump on the hamster wheel of life and start running, convinced that this is the way to happiness. Many never stop and get off the wheel to se if they may have already achieved the happiness that they have been pursuing.
As you get older, you begin to realize that achieving that latest goal was less satisfying than you had imagined and that setting a new goal for yourself to pursue seems less exciting. You may also notice that you don’t seem to have the enthusiasm and energy to put into that pursuit that you used to have. Perhaps it is because there is an increasingly nagging little voice telling you to stop and look at your life and realize what is important. If you do it will likely not involve your possessions so much as it will be about your relationships.
It seems to be man’s fate that every generation must relearn the life lesson that money can’t buy happiness and that possessions seldom bring more than temporary happiness. In the end, when they take the inventory of all of your possessions, many (if not most) will end up in the dumpster that they back up to your McMansion and none of them will end up going with you. Even if someone remembers you fondly tooling around in your fancy sports car or on your big boat, it’s really you that they are remembering and not the possessions. If they are thinking about the car or the boat, what does that say about you and your
relationship with them?
As you near that end; you will realize more and more that the only things that really matters in this world is the relationship with the life partner shuffling along the path beside you; and the only thing that matters after this world is the relationship that you have with the God with whom you will be spending the rest of eternity. Get those two relationships right and you can end the pursuit because you have found happiness.