“Happiness never comes from a destination. Happiness is a choice we make, every day, no matter where we are. It comes from recognizing that circumstances don’t bring happiness, things don’t bring happiness, achievements don’t bring happiness. Happiness comes from inside us, from an attitude of thanksgiving.” ~ Dr Robert Holden
I was approaching my 50th birthday and so far, my search for happiness had left me feeling unsatisfied.
From the time I left high school, I became drunk on the idea of achieving financial success. To me, everything I had been taught, implied or explicit, suggested this is our main objective in life. I believed to diligently follow the ‘steps to success’ would lead to happiness. I had ticked the boxes and thought that should be good enough.
Over the past half-century, I had been gathering ‘stuff’ for myself. It provided me with safety, and security and comfort, in abundance. But I felt no real purpose or significance in my life.
Around this time, a good friend suggested I read the book by Bob Buford, Halftime – Moving from Success to Significance. In it, Buford suggests that the first half of our lives are spent primarily learning, growing, and taking. It’s a time we gather most of our material possessions. We raise our children, who eventually leave home.
From around the empty nest period of our lives, Buford beautifully outlines how living a life of significance, of giving, can make the second half better than the first.
My search for happiness took on a new guise.
- Through deeds,
- The experience of values through a medium (beauty through art, love through a relationship, etc.) or,
- Through suffering.
Frankl sees our ability to respond to life and to be responsible for life as a major factor in finding fulfilment in life. In fact, he viewed responsibility to be the ‘essence of existence’.
Changing my mindset from ‘taking’ to ‘giving’ opened a world of new opportunities. Over the next few years, my transformation was slow but steady. I became more aware of the work I was doing and how I was doing it. I felt empowered to act and live my life with purpose. I drew closer to God. My relationship with my kids and my family deepened. Other toxic relationships came to an overdue end.
In my pursuit for happiness, I have lost a lot of ‘stuff’. Not all of it willingly. The shedding and pruning have continued over the past 8 years. I’m becoming accustomed to living a more frugal life. I’m also doing my best to be responsible and to respond to the life in front of me. Happiness is no longer something or someone somewhere in the future.
Happiness is right inside me every moment I chose it to be.
Have an awesome weekend and please be generous! 😄
As always, thanks for reading 🙏