>Happiness - a pursuit or project?

>http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=beilovjoyandv-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0061583251&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrI just finished Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project and I couldn't be happier about it (not because it was bad, but because it was due back at the library). Her exploration of happiness really encouraged me to look at my own relationship with it.

The whole book is an attempt to discover what makes us happy. I appreciated her cultivating habits such as mindfulness and singing in the shower as ways to lighten the perceived significance of life. I felt she missed something very important in all of it - the juiciness of sadness. As Americans we have this obsession with wanting to be happy. I haven't noticed it in the mentality in other countries as much. It may have something to do with our fundamental constitution exemplifying the "pursuit of happiness," I'm not sure.

I say this because there's good stuff in pain and instead of resisting it I find it useful to get deep into our sadness. So much growth and learning comes from the things that make us unhappy. While I don't advocate staying in a dark slump, I also find it important not to try to "fix it" when it's broken right away. We want unhappiness to end quickly and cling to happiness. Happiness is a noble cause and desire and I certainly don't discount that we have more to give to others when we're happy. A compromise would be learning from happiness and our sadness to honor them both as valuable.

I acknowledge Gretchen Rubin for her quest and in the end realizing we decide our own happiness level (unless of course we have some sort of chemical imbalance, which then we can't really control). Here are some of my fav quotes on this subject that's as old as time:

  • “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you” - Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • “It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” - Agnes Repplier
  • "Some pursue happiness and others create it."
  • "Nothing can bring you happiness but yourself.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” - Albert Einstein
  • “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” - Aristotle
  • “It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” - Dale Carnegie

We have moments of happiness (can't remember who said that) and I can't help but want to cling to those s well. In her book she pointed to something I really liked about downtime moments. It was driving in the car or lying in bed when I could see where my mind drifted and how happy I was with the day.
Happiness is a mentality beyond an emotion or thought. It's a commitment to a way of being and relating that far exceeds a pursuit or project.

Today I'm grateful for the Happiness Project, emotions, and sadness.