“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”
-Viktor Frankl, “Man’s Search For Meaning”
If you ask any of my fellow alumni of The Great Recession what they want most out of life, chances are they will say that they “just want to be happy.”
That’s fair. I’d venture to say that we all want that for ourselves
But what we don’t realize is that our perception of happiness is flawed. There is no pursuit of happiness. Kid Cudi is on the wrong path.
As the logo-therapist and author of the international bestseller “Man’s Search For Meaning” Viktor Frankl says
“One must have a reason to be happy. Once that reason is found however, one becomes happy automatically. As we see, a human being is not one in pursuit of happiness but rather in search of a reason to become happy…”
Trying to make ourselves happy by telling ourselves to be happy is like asking ourselves to laugh on queue. Try it, it’s hard to do right? Frankl, in this same conversation expands on the laughter metaphor by saying:
“in no way is it possible to evoke real laughter by urging him, or having him urge himself to laugh.”
Make sense right? It’s hard to laugh or even smile on queue. We need a reason for either or else we wind up like this person.
We need to shift our focus from chasing the ephemeral feeling of “happiness” and instead pivot to chasing reasons to become happy.
What are you doing now that gives you happiness? Perhaps you started a new job or a new project. Think of the reasons that make you smile and more of those.
Then soon enough you’ll stop the pursuit of happiness and become, just Happy.
Oh PS, check out the brilliant “Man’s Search For Meaning“. It shows that happiness, meaning and purpose can be found in even the most dire and abysmal of circumstances, like the Holocaust.