Monday, September 24, 2018

The Pursuit of Happiness

By Patricia Beal | @bealpat

In May of 2015 (my first blog post ever!), I wrote that happiness is a fantasy station. A place we never really get to.

“I will be happy when I finish college, or marry, or have children, or get published.” But then we get there, and we’re not really happy and come up with something else. I wrote that we should therefore just enjoy the ride.

I’ve changed my mind. This is not how it works at all.

On the outside it may look that way, but what’s happening in the human heart is something different altogether.

It’s not that we get there and are not happy. It’s that our definition of happiness changes many times during our lives. Why? Maturity for sure, but also because when we conquer a mountain we want another. We want adventure and newness, and that’s okay.

Does that mean the first mountain was no good?

Of course not.

To stay on the journey theme, think of it like the trips we take in a lifetime.

I truly enjoyed seeing Barcelona, but after seeing Barcelona, I wanted to go see Madrid. After Madrid, I was ready for Seville.

If I never see Barcelona or Madrid again, I will be totally fine because I’ve seen it once and for me it was enough. If I hadn’t been there, I would be lacking something, wanting something. Those places were building blocks to future stations.

Maybe these mountains—the been theres done thats—are like college degrees and entry-level jobs. They were important and fun. They brought happiness and fulfillment. But we’ve moved on.

Now Seville is a place I visited twice and would visit again. Why? The excitement is still there for me. The newness is still there. The opportunity for discovery is still there.

Maybe the Sevilles of life are like having a child or writing/publishing a novel. Once can be enough. Twice can bring additional discoveries—discoveries worth the financial and emotional investment. The “worth the investment” part is a very personal call.

How about Paris? I’ve been there seven times. I want to go back many times. I will invest. It’s always fresh and exciting, full of undiscovered neighborhoods that hold a world of promise. Those are our marriages and careers—ideally.

So, see, it’s not that we’re confused and shallow, wanting one thing one day and something else the next day for no good reason. We’re not ungratefully making little of our victories and achievements. We’re growing and seeking and being and living.

Isn’t it interesting that the American forefathers wrote “the pursuit of happiness” instead of simply “happiness” in the Declaration of Independence? They didn’t write the pursuit of liberty—just liberty. But they wrote the pursuit of happiness. They too must have known that it changes and moves and that that’s totally okay.

Brazilian columnist Martha Medeiros wrote something brilliant in a column about happiness and the elusive happily ever after. Here’s a loose translation:

“To live is not safe. To live is not easy. And it must not be boring. Even in the middle of making choices deemed permanent, we can tour into unexplored areas in our souls and discover places never before seen or imagined. And from there we can rethink choices and recalculate the duration of forever. Sometimes ‘forever’ last less than our stubbornness and our fear of change.”

Let’s go do this. Let’s declare independence from fear and from stubbornness, and let’s fill our hearts and our minds with the joy of the pursuit of happiness, shall we?

Let’s be okay with the ups and downs that it entails and declare war on sameness—on doing what you do because, well, it’s what you do… Go do something else. Something that will make you insanely happy. When that doesn’t make you happy anymore, put it in the pages of the history of your life and go pursue something else.

What if God had been okay with a world without Adam? Things would have been smooth and beautiful, but it was to Adam that He wrote His love letter. It’s Adam He pursues.

Your Creator is wild. Go be wild.

About Patricia 

Patricia Beal has danced ballet her whole life. She is from Brazil and fell in love with the English language while washing dishes at a McDonald's in Indianapolis. She put herself through college working at a BP gas station and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati with a B.A. in English Literature. She then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years.

She now writes contemporary fiction and her debut novel, A Season to Dance, came out in May of 2017 (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). A Portuguese translation came out in her native Brazil in August of 2018 (Editora Pandorga). Patricia is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She and her husband live in North Carolina with their two children.

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  1. This is a wonderful post, Patricia! I love reading about how your thinking has changed, and I totally agree. "It must not be boring" is a great quote.

    1. Hi, Donna! I'm glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for stopping by :)