“Never make happiness your goal.” These words stood on top of a brief post in a newsletter I received in my email box yesterday.
What this little poem, or whatever it is, is asking for is a change in perspective.
Most of us run around looking for happiness. It’s even a part of our bill of rights, to have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Most of us make our partners the target of being the one person, who is supposed to make us happy.
But in reality nobody is supposed to make us happy but we ourselves. Our job is to refocus our energy away from the idea that happiness is supposed to be given to us by others, and instead onto taking charge of our happiness ourselves.
Most people find a purpose by being of service to others. By raising children, by teaching, building homes, providing food or services for others.
If we can focus on getting satisfaction out of our job, our family, our friendships, then we have the strength to bring joy and meaning into our relationships.
Of course there is always an extreme to that. If your spouse is abusive or your boss exploitative, then you have to do something about that. Then it is not your task to “fully accept what is”. Then your task is to take care of yourself first.
But apart from the great tragedies of our lives – loss, illness, oppression – most of us have it pretty good. But we tend to focus on what we don’t have.
This little poem is asking us to look at life not from the perspective of what is being done (or not done) to us, but what we can do to be engaged with our life so it can provide meaning and fulfillment.
All it takes is a change of perspective.