The Pursuit of Happiness
We walk effortlessly, gliding past the unfamiliar faces with indifference and easing our way through the thick crowd. Our arms and legs move robotically; heading from one class to another in hopes of receiving satisfactory grades, attaining internships, and preparing for life after college. We walk absentmindedly, ceasing to pay much attention to the people around us. We don’t stop to think of that person’s problems, feelings, or goals. To us that person is no different from the next. We walk concerned with our own troubles, emotions, and aspirations. To us college is our happiness.
We have come to realize that we are no longer children. Our minds are engraved with aspirations, instead of frivolous thoughts. Our backpacks are filled with laptops, instead of toys and our main destination is graduation, instead of the playground.
As a child we were taught to think like a child. We understood happiness as a one-sided, abstract feeling. As children, we were true optimists, experiencing happiness with a simple-minded approach and indulging in the beauty of everyday occurrences. As adults, we are taught to analyze like adults. We evaluate happiness, exchange ideas of what constitutes contentment, and form our own biased opinions. We no longer appreciate happiness in its truest, simplistic form. We grew up to be realists and idealized happiness, coming across with new theories and innovations that enhanced our “happy” lives.
The transition from childhood to maturity is an inevitable process. However, our shift in age should not diminish happiness. If anything, our intelligence and perceptiveness should enhance our constant pursuit for contentment and offer us more ways than one to find it.
What composes modern-day happiness varies from person to person. Receiving a job promotion might be the ultimate happiness for some. For others, it might be their next high, or newest relationship, or next big purchase. The average American overlaps happiness with momentary pleasure. We are taught by media that the better we look and the more we own determines our happiness. In school, happiness is found by the smartest, most talented, or hardest working achievers. It’s all about having things or doing something, providing good feelings in the here and now. But what happens when things go wrong and good feelings go away? Does that mean our happiness is shattered? Is it simply an elusive and fleeting emotion?
Positive psychologists, self-help gurus, and religious figures alike have all given their philosophies on happiness. Although many have attempted to define happiness with various theories and abstract ideas, happiness continues to be subjective and ranges from a brief satisfaction to an everlasting effect.
Happiness is an indefinite, two-sided ideal. Deep down, everyone wants to be happy. Yet, there is a difference in wanting to be happy and actually carrying out that happiness.
It is much easier to attain a negative mindset, to wallow in past or present circumstances, and constantly let negativity dictate everyday life. As Aristotle once said, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” Getting past the negativity that surrounds our everyday lives can be daunting. Beginning to change a mindset that once constructed our modes of thinking and remained dominant for the majority of our lives is difficult. All happiness will ever be is an intangible desire if not pursued. Our pursuit is meaningless if all we do is satisfy desires in the hear in now. Happiness is not in the form of how many friends you have, the type of grades you receive or the successful future that awaits you.
College should not be your main source of happiness. Happiness is found within you.
It isn’t a temporary feeling. It’s not a fearful and meaningless pursuit of the next form of entertainment or reliance on an outside force to make us happy. Happiness is a long-term state of mind; a conceptual understanding of lasting fulfillment, as opposed to instant gratification. It’s simply a choice. It’s a choice that no matter what situation I find myself in or where life takes me, I will be thankful for life itself. It’s an overall outlook of contentment in life, and it reflects in all aspects of one’s existence.
Do not let your environment determine your attitude. Focus on the positive and persevere through obstacles. Don’t look at a discouraging situation like it’s a crisis, look at it as an opportunity to rise above and build character. Appreciate the good times and the bad. For even the most miserable occurrence can bring great insight. Don’t take loved ones, opportunities that may seem small, or each passing day for granted. For all that matters in life is realizing what makes you happy. Once you have found it, everything else will fall into place.