Anna’s Answers: The Pursuit of Happiness

Anna’s eighth blog

More stories from Anna Schmidt

For a long time I thought about happiness in terms of acquisition. Once I acquired certain things, I would be happy. Once I had clear skin, I would be happy. Once I had a boyfriend, I would be happy. Once I had a good wardrobe, I would be happy. Once I lost enough weight, I would be happy. Once I made six figures, I would be happy.  Once I did x, y, or z, I would be happy.  

Happiness has been my pursuit for as long as I can remember. I think it is your pursuit too. Subconsciously, it is all of our pursuit. Happiness is the best feeling. The best state of mind. The most peaceful and perfect state of being. Of course we want that. Wanting it is normal. It is also normal to think the way I did. To think that we could up and GET happiness one day. I thought, and you probably did too, that happiness had an end result. Something I’ve been realizing lately, however, is that happiness is not something we attain. It’s not something with an end goal. Happiness is a journey that looks different for all of us. Happiness is a journey that we go on, and one that doesn’t have a destination. Happiness is when we are ok with the fact that there is no destination.  

Something else that I am also realizing is how HARD it is to accept that. How amazing would it be to just have to reach one benchmark and then be set for the rest of time? Really nice. But it’s not like that. There are lots of benchmarks that we attain, and are never fulfilled by. Most of the time, when we reach that goal of losing weight or getting a boyfriend or making money, we don’t feel even the least bit happy. Usually, we just want more, and we are left feeling endlessly disappointed in ourselves for not achieving “enough.” The way things actually are, is much more difficult than that dream idea we have of reaching the end goal of happiness. 

In a way though, I kind of like this way better. With the way things actually are, I’ve discovered that happiness comes with the pursuit of things that we truly love. Happiness is when we decide that we are going to live our lives embracing the good and bad, but focusing on the good, and pursuing the good, because those things bring us the most joy. Happiness is also knowing that life won’t always be filled with those things that we love, but that that is ok. Happiness is accepting the harder, or more challenging parts and saying, “I am not experiencing joy right now, but I am still pursuing love and good things. I am still working to make my life whole, and more fulfilling.” Happiness IS the pursuit. 

Happiness is a hard topic to think about. It makes you stop and REALLY think. Are you aiming for something? For money or appearance or lust? If so, how do you know when you have enough? When do you meet the benchmark of “enough material things for you to be happy?” Or “thin enough to deserve happiness.” 

Or are you aiming for more love? For more of the things you love? For more of a journey? More acceptance towards the things you don’t love? 

Only one pursuit will lead you on the destinationless journey that is happiness. Only one will truly fulfill you to the point that you can say, “I am happy right now.” Only one will leave you at peace. And it is a conscious decision that each of us has to make every single day. One that we have to shape our lives around. One that will change the way we live, and the way we feel things. In my opinion, this is the most important decision we will ever make. So choose wisely.