We had a big discussion about happiness vs. contentment several years back and I was thinking about it this morning. Some people asserted that happiness is fleeting; that contentment is what we should strive for, as if contentment is the more permanent condition. We went back and forth about what happiness really is and I don’t recall ever reaching any kind of resolution. Is that because happiness is unique to each individual? Obviously the things we find entertaining and inspiring may differ wildly from person to person.
Our ideas of what “the pursuit of happiness” involves has changed over time. And I have to tell you, I’ve always found it strange that we have this idea of the pursuit of happiness as something that applies to everyone when society works so hard at times to deny the things that might make some people happy – i.e. marriage and employment equality, voting rights, property ownership rights (of course, these things change over time but there always seems to be one group who’d rather not allow another group to have something they want). Why, when as a society we say that we value this inherent right to pursue happiness, do we present so many obstacles to attaining it?
Another thought. Parents say “I just want my kids to be happy,” but they often have a preconceived notion of what that looks like. Maybe it means, “I want my Susie to marry a good man and give me lots of grandchildren” or possibly “If Tom gets good grades and a good education, he’ll never have to struggle like I have.” So what happens when Susie decides she never wants to get married or have children? If Tom drops out of high school, are his chances for finding happiness ruined? Many parents embrace the lives their children have chosen, even if it takes some time. But many don’t.
I wonder if we (the big WE) really just don’t get what happiness means? What do you think? What’s happiness for you?
For me personally, happiness comes when I follow my heart and take responsibility for my decisions. When I am happy, I am confident, brave, and strong. And though I consider myself a very cheerful person, I wouldn’t say that I am always happy. So I guess I consider happiness to be just like any other feeling, one that comes and goes in reaction to various internal and external factors.
Hope you all enjoy the rest of this philosophical weekend!
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.
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