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!


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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