Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Pursuit of Happiness

On a wet and dreary day not too many days ago, I was feeling gloomy and the weather was looking grey. Then a bluebird alit on a branch right outside my window and stayed there for awhile, and I remembered that a blue bird is sometimes a symbol for happiness. I decided to take it as an image and a sign for me, a reminder to notice any small bit of happy in the midst of gloominess.

I only recently stopped to consider the phrase "the pursuit of happiness" and what it could mean. I think I had always dismissed it, because I believe our lives are intended to have much greater meaning than just "happiness," because pursuing happiness itself is not always the right way to find true fulfillment. However, "pursuing happiness" doesn't have to mean being selfish, or pursuing happiness above all else. It could also mean seeking out, appreciating, and enjoying all of the little bits of happiness that come to us in the everyday.

Today, the sky is blue and the ground is white with snow, and I heard some unexpectedly good news yesterday after writing about faith (very interesting timing, don't you think?). Today, it is easier for me to be happy than it is most days, but even today I could be worrying about how this or that will work out, or I could be noticing and appreciating the good things about this day.

It doesn't mean that I will be happy all of the time, as I am sure I will still get sad and disappointed and frustrated sometimes. But I am making a commitment to try every day to find some little thing that makes me smile and to be glad for that thing.

And really, when I think of it that way, the pursuit of happiness could just as well be called the pursuit of gratitude.

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