In pursuit of happiness: is happiness really attainable or a state of the human mind?

Is happiness really attainable or a state of the human mind? Many devote themselves to finding happiness in different ways, be it religious enlightenment or devotion to work or money. Yet we never attain that elusive state of infinite happiness we all yearn for...

Man contemplating the pursuit of happiness

"The search for happiness, through denouncing everything human, seems misguided somehow. Happiness is, after all, a human condition, created by human impulses in a human brain."

I know many of us, myself included, promise ourselves that we'll be happy just as soon as we achieve this or that success and get this or that material possession. How many years have we been convincing ourselves that the watering hole is just the other side of that sand dune beyond the horizon? How do we detach ourselves from these fleeting pleasures in order to attain true happiness?

"Perhaps happiness does not exist at all but is simply a mirage we create for ourselves so we can always strive for more. It is obvious why we might have evolved the propensity to seek happiness, as this unending desire urges us to keep working for more money, status, progress, increasing our chances of survival as a male species."

In my early 40’s I met my grandfather for the first time. At 84 years old, he had acquired wealth and built a successful business, yet he had spent many of those years lonely, in silence and isolation because he was estranged from my mother through no fault of his own, or my mother’s for that matter. Both had spent lifetimes in search of the other. He was not a happy man. However, through reuniting with the daughter he thought he had lost forever, her children and his great-grandchildren, he is now fulfilled.

Many are consumed by pursuing wealth and power. The search for happiness, through denouncing everything human, seems misguided somehow. Happiness is, after all, a human condition, created by human impulses in a human brain. Everyone is different, but companionship is a pretty basic requirement for most humans to be happy.

"Happiness doesn’t have to be fleeting and insignificant but can be grounded and can even leave a legacy."

But if there is no happiness to be found through participation in society or our families then where is it? Perhaps happiness does not exist at all but is simply a mirage we create for ourselves so we can always strive for more. It is obvious why we might have evolved the propensity to seek happiness, as this unending desire urges us to keep working for more money, status, progress, increasing our chances of survival as a male species. Yet by that token, it would seem maladaptive to ever actually attain a state of constant happiness, at least while one is capable of being a productive member of society.

Dads, do we give up? What will our sons (the future dads of the world) think? Do we lay down a legacy of giving up?

No. I can’t accept it. I will not accept it. I have to believe that I am more than capable of attaining and sustaining that amazing faith that is unseen and a glimpse of reality while surfing in the waves of thoughts on how I achieve infinite happiness. I have to believe happiness is real and that I am in fact getting closer to it...I am in pursuit of happiness.

Or am I already there? Each day I must be gracious and with happiness appreciate the light of a new day. True happiness isn’t about how much money we acquire or whether we’ve impressed our boss, or been given a promotion. All of these are fleeting.

Dads, we need to find happiness in our families, in our children, who give us joy without us even realising it. How about spending extra time with the family? The joy on your children’s faces will be priceless. Start creating happy memories that your children will never forget. Happiness can also be found in doing good to or for others - think about helping an elderly or infirm neighbour with the gardening or odd jobs around the house. There’s a lot of joy and satisfaction to be found from that.

Happiness doesn’t have to be fleeting and insignificant but can be grounded and can even leave a legacy. We all know when Dad is in a mood or grumpy, the household changes, the children retreat and keep out of the way. Is that what we want to be remembered for?

I certainly don’t. So, let’s do something about it.

 

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  • Guest
    Simon Monday, 24 December 2018

    Great article

    Absolutely agree with this - children spell love as 'T-I-M-E' so spending more time with your family is definitely a worthwhile pursuit.

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Guest Thursday, 21 March 2019

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