Happy?

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Is being happy what life is all about? I went to Amazon and typed the word “happy” in the search box of the books section. What popped up were 100 pages—not 100 books, 100 pages of lists of books with “happy” in the title. There were more than 66,000 titles included in the search results.

Whew! As a society, we are chasing happiness relentlessly, holding it up as the perfect state. It is reflected in all the book titles that talk about ways to be happy, how to make our kids happy, being a happy wife, having happy money, getting happy sleep…

Happiness, apparently, sells.

But the more I see people focus on pursuing happiness, the less happy they are. Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, wrote, “For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

Life is an equal opportunity experience, and to live it fully means that you get to experience happiness—but also, at times, sadness, love, anxiety, confusion, peace, anger, contentment, compassion, and a whole lot of other things. In other words, you can only experience great happiness in your life by also experiencing great sadness. How else do you know what makes you truly happy?

Happiness happens, for sure. Get on with living your life fully, and happiness will find you. And at its end, in spite of—or maybe because of—some days of grief, pain and hurt, you can say that the on the whole, you’ve had a happy life.