The Pursuit

We’re all entitled to the pursuit of happiness. It’s right in the Constitution! But what if the pursuit of happiness is what robs us of happiness? What if the pursuit of anything blinds us from what is right in front of us, that which we already have? This was the question posed by Glennon Doyle on one of her recent podcasts.

For much of my young life, I was always looking ahead to the next big thing. The next accomplishment, rite of passage, sign of growing up. High school, tennis season, the choir trip, graduation, college, student teaching, graduation, teaching job, engagement, house, kids, dog, pool. Always standing where I am, but looking ahead to what’s next, the thing that will surely make me happy. Head down, I just need to get there.

But then I’m there and it’s the same scenario. I just need to get to the next thing. Then I’ll be happy.

But the thing is, I was happy. Right where I was. I enjoyed high school (for the most part). I loved the time we bundled under blankets at our freezing cold tennis match. I loved wandering in and out of stores in Montreal on our choir trip. I enjoyed weekend dinners with my roommates in college. I loved teaching one theme throughout a day to 5 and 6 year olds. I loved the way my first house smelled. I loved how fast our greyhound ran, legs outstretched and stride graceful. I marveled at each baby, not able to comprehend the miracle I’d been blessed with. I loved swimming laps, feeling my weightlessness in water. I was happy. Every day. For a million little reasons that I often overlooked in my pursuit of happiness.

What if we focused less on the pursuit of love, money, happiness, a rewarding job, education and the like, and just started appreciating the moments that make up each experience? What if the pursuit is what is making us unhappy or frustrated or paralyzed? What if the notion that We’ll be happy when… is what is robbing us of our enjoyment of the thing? Or even attaining the thing at all.

What if we just hit pause and took it all in? And felt grateful.

Photo: Columbia Heights, Washington, DC. 9.18.22 by LA

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