For the last three years, my life has consisted of what at times has seemed like an impossible quest. The Pursuit of Happiness. I think I have been on this adventure for a lot longer than three years but a real concerted effort has been made on my part within this timeframe. Think about it….what is it that we all want? Happiness. We disguise happiness in many forms usually consisting of money, power, and prestige but in the final analysis it’s basic happiness we all want. Pure and simple, unadulterated happiness. My friend Will Smith (OK, I don’t really know the guy) made a movie in 2006 effectively titled “The Pursuit of Happyness”. The film is largely based on a true story about a father desperately trying to build a better life for his family and the immense challenges, struggles and disappointments he must face along the way. The story also explores the incredible bond between a father and his son and the belief that with hard work, dedication, and the right opportunity, ANYTHING is possible.
In my past, I tried finding happiness through many different avenues, forms, and substances. My pursuit included work, women, cars, booze, not working, marriages, living life above my means, and countless trips to the “adult” bar where I thought the “entertainers” really understood me. What I inevitably ended up with was extreme loneliness and more problems than I had begun with. I can honestly say I never found happiness at The Doll House, at the bottom of a bottle, or at my job. In retrospect, I cannot blame these outside sources for my disappointments, but instead have come to the conclusion that it was my outlook and inner turmoil that prevented me from finding that most elusive element…..”Happiness”. So what’s a guy to do?
Through the many ups and downs my life encountered, my main state of mind was that of the exact opposite of my quest…..un-happiness. It didn’t matter what positive things were in my life, what blessings had come my way, how fortunate or successful I was, it was never enough. Nothing was ever good enough, big enough, fast enough, pretty enough or expensive enough. I remember marrying the “love of my life” and within weeks I was finding faults; accumulating reasons or better yet excuses as to why I should not be with this person. Working at an excellent company, my day was spent devising ways to quit my job and do something else. Finally living in a place I had dreamed of, on the water with a view of the ocean, the walls suddenly began to close in on me and my dream home was now too small and inadequate. Is this not usually the case? We want what we can’t or don’t have. Women were not exempt from my desperate attempts at happiness as I often found myself as the religious folk say, “Coveting my Neighbors Wife” often revealing my lustful feelings in a drunken stupor. While I lose focus on the subject matter, as I tend to do, it is representative of the loss I repeatedly experienced in dealing with or trying to find happiness. Let me explain.
I always looked at external things to find my happiness. I counted on people to make me happy. I always had to keep up with “The Joneses” and I needed the biggest and the baddest….once I got it, it didn’t fill the huge void in my life. Material property, my climb on the corporate ladder, my place of residence or my companion/wife at the time did absolutely nothing to quiet the insecurities, fears and frustrations that resonated inside my head…..there was a key ingredient missing in my life. I was missing something you can’t buy, you can’t ingest, you can’t own…..I had to find GRATITUDE, if I was to truly make a valiant attempt at finding happiness. Why is gratitude so important?
Gratitude makes us not just content, but more importantly thankful with what we currently have. It makes us feel comfortable with where we currently are in our journey. The saying, “I have everything I need, therefore I have everything I want, for I want nothing that I don’t need” really holds a lot of truths. I’m not trying to knock ambition. I believe ambition to be a good thing, as long as our happiness does not depend on those things we WANT. I am very happy at my job, in my current position, making the measly salary I make. I am blessed to have my job. I would love to move up in the company and I am working towards that, yet I appreciate where I am today. I am happy with where I am today. I am blessed and grateful with where I am today. I am working towards a better tomorrow, but if tomorrow never comes, I’m OK with that. Does any of this incessant rambling make any sense to you? I hope so.
So to summarize, if you are on that “Pursuit of Happiness” look where you are right now. Realize that happiness is a state of mind and enjoy and be grateful for the blessings you have received TODAY. Work towards a better tomorrow, but enjoy TODAY. Help another, the rewards are immeasurable, and live your life with passion!