Happiness Isn’t the Goal

“Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne, in The American Notebooks, 1861

 

I’ve been thinking about happiness a lot lately–finding it, living it, sharing it. I think Hawthorne has a point: whenever I’ve pursued happiness, I’ve never found it. But when I’ve gone off and done something else–I stop one day and it hits me: “I am happy.”

That’s always a great feeling, realizing that I’ve found a happy place in my life without seeking it.  Of course, I do seek to be happy in life by being content, but I think there’s a difference between happiness and contentment. I want to strive for contentment, as I am coming to believe that we’re not always supposed to be happy. It’s not a right. It’s a by-product of a life lived well.  I don’t mean a monetary good life, but a life lived with purpose, direction and love.

***

Just a note: twice today I almost wrote about quotes by Emerson that weren’t actually Emerson. I know his style well enough to guess, and with some researching, I saved myself a headache.  So much on the internet is misattributed, so from now on, whenever possible, I shall try to give a source for the quote.  Some days this might not be possible, but I will try. Let the misquoting stop here!

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About maggiec

Educator, writer, world traveler, bibliophile, theater devotee, cat lover, mother of an actor, adopted auntie to hundreds. Spreading love (and literacy), one day at a time.
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