“I just want to be happy.” For millenniums, this has been the goal. Humans have longed for a sense of happiness. We have searched relentlessly. Some seem to have found it while others have failed. Some have found what I will call immense happiness. They have lived a life where they are perpetually happy. Others have lived lives full of darkness, grief, and despair. Why?
I assume that you, like the rest of us, crave happiness. Before we get deeper into the idea I have found, I want you to know, you’re not alone. You aren’t the first human to have desired this. You aren’t the first one who has experienced happiness. You aren’t the first human who has been void of it either. Know that there is hope. Hope is a beautiful thing.
Now, humans were formed in such a way that we experience emotions. We feel. And not only do we feel, but we are actually aware that we feel. We know when we are happy, sad, and mad. We can reflect on our emotions. We can reflect on our existence. This is a beautiful trait that is unique to us; but it can also leave us searching for that thing that made us feel a certain way. It can leave us traveling down a path, that we have no clue how to navigate, in search of that feeling.
“How do I navigate the journey towards happiness? It’s what I want most.” Yes. This is the question. I believe we must break down what it is that we are seeking. Happiness, as we have come to define in the English language, is the state of feeling pleasure or contentment. Now this is much easier to understand.
Pleasure can be found in countless ways. Some pleasures last longer than others. Some pleasures bring a greater sense of happiness. As your mind processes pleasure, it will reinforce the drive to repeat that pleasure again. Neurons in your brain will actually release a chemical (dopamine) to travel to other neurons in order to reinforce that that feeling you are experiencing is special. It’s something that you want to repeat. Pleasure can definitely aid in the pursuit of happiness. However, pleasure can be present one moment and absent the next. There must be another piece.
Being content is integral to a life of happiness. Personally, this is the piece that I’ve had a difficult time with at points in my life. I believe being content is the act of acknowledging the direction of life/the universe while leaning in to the reality that you play a part. It’s this intersection of insignificance and significance. The universe is continually expanding; it’s infinitely big. With that mindset, we are infinitely small. Compared to the vastness of the cosmos, you are small. While at the same time, you are deeply significant. There is something special about humans. We are aware of our surroundings and emotions. We have the ability to make the world a beautiful place and we have the ability to destroy it. I believe humans have the breath of God inside them. We are spiritual beings. For me, being content is coming to reality with these facts and resting in the mystery of the unknown.
I believe happiness can be illustrated in the following way.
We are on the brink of a rushing river. The waters are moving steadily in a certain direction. They are moving with power and purpose. I believe we are faced with 3 possible decisions. First, we can watch from the edge and never get in. We can stand in our “safety” outside the energy of the water. The second possibility is that we can get in and fight the water to stay in one place. We realize there is something about the water that intrigues us and calls us to take part; however, our reservations push us to attempt to stand in one spot. This act will leave us in a continual fight against the river. Lastly, we can get in and let the current win. We can float down this river and see the beauty that is to come.
Friends, I believe we will find pleasure and contentment as we surrender to the direction of the universe. We are created to be in the water. We weren’t created to stand on the bank. We weren’t created to get in, and continually fight. We were created to surrender to, and be at peace with, the direction of the universe.
Wherever you are at in life, I want to tell you there is hope. There is hope in the days ahead. There is hope in the relationships that will come. There is hope in act of surrendering to God. Get in the river. Let go. Experience the beauty of the world. Experience the beauty of people. Rest in the understanding that you can’t control the river. Rather, you were created to flow in the same direction. Friends, I implore you to get in.