A couple years ago I was scrolling around on Pinterest, like I do, and came across this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Upon reading this I am sure I scoffed and mumbled some bullshit under my breath. At the time, I was really fucking confused. What do you mean the purpose of life is not to be happy? I thought that was the ultimate goal, the end game, right? Happiness. That is what everyone says they want to find! How the hell could happiness not be our main priority? There are 87,094 books on Amazon about finding “happiness”. This is insane. If it is not our purpose as humans, then why do we all want this illusive thing and why is it that no one seems to know how to find it?
Nine months ago my ex-husband said he needed to talk. He wasn’t happy and wasn’t sure that he was even capable of happiness and needed “time” to figure it all out. So, I too, took a step back and have been contemplating the idea of “happiness” and came to this conclusion:
Happiness is an empty word for lazy people.
Whew, I said it.
Remember back to middle school English- inevitably there were several posters like this ticky-tacked to the walls:
There are hundreds of more accurate and precise words.
Happy is lazy. More importantly, happy is passive.
Let us consider: content, fulfilled, utilized, honest, trustworthy, peaceful, compassionate and kind. These goals are more feasible. A blanket statement like, “I want to happy” is too big, too undefined and quite frankly, too misguided. How does one become happy? Who knows. Or maybe, ask one of the 87,094 authors on Amazon.
The idea of finding one’s happiness tends to be an outward idea. Those seeking the simplicity of happiness look for things that make them happy: a new car, new shoes, money, sex, food, vacation, cocktails. These items may bring temporary happiness for a week, a day, or maybe even just 10 minutes, but when the excitement of the thing wears off- it’s over. Happiness is consistently fleeting idea, especially when combined with tangible pursuits.
I am urging us to look deeper. Look within. Be more precise. We all want to be happy, but what else do you want?
I want to be compassionate. I want to be helpful. I want to be inspiring. I want to be loving. I want to be positive. I want to be encouraging. I want to be confident. I want to be friendly. I want to have purpose.
These are smaller, more specific goals, but most importantly, they do not rely on outside factors. The keys to compassion, inspiration, confidence and positivity lie WITHIN yourself. You cannot buy these items or rely on someone else to give you them. Their impact is not momentary. Confidence will stay housed within you forever. Compassion, once learned, is a life long skill. Positivity is a way of life.
I truly believe the only way to “be happy” is to love yourself- every little piece of you, even the dark and scary corners. When you wake up in the morning confident in your choices, you, my dear, have found the purpose of life. Stop worrying about “happiness”. Take it out of the vernacular. Happiness is lazy. Search for something greater.