The Pursuit of Happiness — The Voyage of not Knowing

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Life’s hard.

What will I have for breakfast? Am I even hungry? Will it nourish me? Will I enjoy it?

It’s about making choices when there are no right answers. And for the most part there really are no right answers in life; it is all about personal perception, precedent and the expected course, my right could well be your wrong.

And people miss that. We adhere to the path we assume others expect us to take, ticking off life experiences instead of pursuing the things that make us happy. We see what others have and assume that is what will appease us, without realising they have done the same thing. It is a never ending cycle of averageness. Instead of deciding for ourselves, we allow ourselves to be led by the conventional wisdom of life.

I’m guilty.

The pursuit of happiness is so brave because it doesn’t just mean rejecting the things that make you unhappy. It’s often about cutting loose the things that you are indifferent about. But we don’t, we are happy to accept what we have instead of pursuing the things that would truly fulfil us. We remain in that job because it could be worse, that relationship because we do not want to be alone. We become duplicitous and find ways to augment our reality to enable us to cope with our life’s shortcomings.

Contentment and comfort, unfortunately, are not happiness and they never will be. Perhaps along the road they are, maybe it is after you’ve experience endless pain which numbs you to the reality of life, but typically they only leave questions. Eventually we must settle down, we must stick to an idea, we must sacrifice part of ourselves in order to appease our consciousness and appear normal to the outside world.

And settling is the problem.

They say when you know, you know, but what if you only know in that second because you do not possess the requisite experience to understand the ramifications of your choices?

Knowing when to settle is the most important skill in life.

Sacrificing the negative things in your life does not ensure future happiness but it isn’t a huge risk.

Sacrificing things that are ok but not great increases the risk.

Sacrificing safety and security and what we know for the unknown is potentially the smartest or stupidest decision we will ever make.

So we don’t. Often even in the face of better options.

We remain and struggle. Instead of becoming the best version of ourselves we retreat into our shell and people don’t realise what the problem is.

Resentment grows, we don’t talk about it, and things get worse.

Not talking about things is our kryptonite. We don’t realise the cathartic release of talking about problems until we have bottled things up inside to such an extent that there is no recovery.

Or we are ignored or not taken seriously.

Or we hide from the truth pretending it isn’t real and hoping it never catches us.

But it will, life might be short, but our problems always catch us. We can’t outrun our own feelings or consciousness. We constantly run the gauntlet, navigating the waters and wondering whether we have done the right thing.

But there are no right answers.

Should you have had that muffin for breakfast? Probably not but it tasted good.

Should you still be working in that job? Yes, because you need the money, but it destroy your soul.

Should you still be married? Yes, because it is safe and secure and we have children, but we have nothing in common and don’t enjoy one another company.

Every choice has its positives which are often outweighed by the negatives, but this is mainly because we ascribe higher significance to the things we have in comparison to the things we could have.

And that is the risk factor, that is the choice, that is life.

We constantly walk the tight rope of happiness, making decisions we hope are right while never knowing. And making changes breaks hearts, ruins dreams and alters the trajectory of entire lives. The ripples from one tiny decision.

It all comes down to whether you can or you can’t

Can you go on, can you survive? Life is quintessentially about that. Could you survive without it? That how I answer questions, that the importance I ascribe to the biggest things in my life.

Yet I still don’t know what I want.

Perhaps that is what it all about; juggling the balls of life is trying to keep everything in the air. Or maybe that is the way we try to please everyone else except from ourselves.

Sometimes you have to be selfish, sometimes you need to do things for you. But we don’t and we never will, and that’s why we don’t relentlessly pursue happiness.

Unless you do. I would argue that what true visionaries have done.

But are they truly happy?

Who knows.

Not I.

Do you?

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