Tag Archives: pursuit of happiness

Don’t Look for Happiness

When 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.