Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chase Fulfillment, Not Happiness

"There's More to Life than Happiness" - so says a recent article on theatlantic.com.  What do you think?  Is there?  It does seem to be frantically pursued.  Everyone is looking for that one thing that is going to make them happy.  We are told to hold on to what makes us happy and ignore or get rid of what does not make us happy.  Is this the best path for us to take?

The article I referenced above includes this quote from the book "The Meaning of Life" by Viktor Frankl.
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing,the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

Viktor Frankl
We all have the ability to choose how we look at the circumstances of our life.  Frankl's family was in a concentration camp together and he was able to find meaning in even that desperate, horrific situation.  Surely we can do the same in our daily lives.  Happiness is a choice.  

Frankl found meaning in his importance in the lives of his family members.  His wife and children looked to him for strength and for an example of how to survive the horrors they witnessed daily.  This gave his life purpose.  There are countless people who "hold it together" when they feel like falling apart because there are people in their life that count on them.  For creative people, continuing with their creations gives them purpose and provides them strength when life seems to fall apart.  It often is something outside of ourselves that gives us purpose and meaning.

Here is my favorite quote from the article.
"But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue".  
I agree with this so strongly.  The happiness that most of us chase is temporary.  It's how you feel when your team wins.  It's how you feel when you buy a new car.  It's how you feel when you get what you want.  It's a surface feeling.  We can be happy but unfulfilled.  Many of us are exactly this. If we find fulfillment and purpose, then happiness, true happiness, will follow.  

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