Don’t Look for Happiness

Don't Look for HappinessWhen I looked for my yellow scarf I found my old pearl necklace. I searched high and low looking for a flashlight, thinking, it’s gotta be here somewhere, but it didn’t show up until two days later, after I’d forgotten about it and was on a hunt for double-AA batteries.
This is how it is with joy; if you go seeking it, most likely you will find something else.

For the last five years I’ve been telling people, “look for joy” and “I’m looking for joy.” But chasing after joy is so – graceless. It’s an embarrassingly poor use of one’s time. Even though the Pursuit of Happiness is one of those unalienable rights granted in our country’s Declaration of Independence, right after Life and Liberty, it seems like a shallow and self-indulgent thing to be pursuing.

So now I’m changing my song: don’t look for joy.

Joy is a follower. It tags along behind, or is the result of something else. It doesn’t simply sit somewhere waiting to get plucked up like a daisy. Don’t bother searching for joy. Instead, be ready for it. Be open to it. Adopt the attitude that happiness can be a heartbeat away even when you’re drowning in grief and misery.

Joy is too elusive a thing to try to capture for oneself. It’s easier to make joy happen for someone else. Look for opportunities to create it. It lives deep inside you, waiting to be shared. You may not be able to bask in it yourself at that moment, but you can still grow it and give it away.

The really neat thing is when you bring joy to another it boomerangs back to you. You end up feeling good, maybe even looking good. And then friends stop bugging you about how you should “go see someone” and “get anti-depressants.”

I know how it is to deliver joy. Even in all my sadness, after I do something to make someone else feel happy, it’s kind of like I’m standing tall on a hilltop in a gentle wind, wrapped in a warm pink blanket, watching all the lost yellow scarves and pearls floating down to me from under a rising sun.


Many thanks to my dauntless friend Annette who posed, trying to be joyful when she was really hungry and in pain, before I completely exhausted her.


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5 thoughts on “Don’t Look for Happiness

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Thank you to Annette and you for giving each other and me the gift of joy. What a great photo. What a great perspective. I love the Brother David quote. I stopped thinking much about joy in recent years, although sometimes it comes around for a visit. I still look for meaning and a sense that my life matters. In the end, those goals may have to be dropped to as I give what I can to those standing next to me and take in the beauty of the earth. No meaning or purpose needed. Just Being Grateful.

  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    Happiness and joy always seem to be byproducts that show up when we’re NOT looking for them. But offering them to others is sure a good way to increase your odds! Thanks again, Robin, for a thoughtful, heartfelt, blog.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Lynne, I’m wondering if this is related to “give to others that which you wish to receive” and “treat others the way you’d like to be treated.” I mean, these are all things we do to make others happy, and in the process we feel better ourselves. “Byproducts” – I need to think more about that. Cheers!

  3. Margaret

    Robin, you have done it again! This blog takes my breath away ; it is so TRUE: Don’t bother searching for joy. “Instead, be ready for it. Be open to it. Adopt the attitude that happiness can be a heartbeat away even when you’re drowning in grief and misery.” As Brother David says, “Joy is the Happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.” You got it, my friend. Thank you!

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Ooooh! Margaret, another great line I can add to my desk. “Joy is the Happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.” Okay, must live in that quote today. Yow! Thank you.


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