“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” – Henry David Thoreau
Another Tumblr nugget. As soon as I read that it started digging at the back of my brain. When I think about it, I’ve spent most of my life trying to be happy and I’ve only had rare moments of actually being happy. Now that I’m thinking about it, I have to wonder, has that been my problem all along? I’ve been trying to get love and money and happiness, but it’s constantly eluding me.
If that is the issue, how do you do anything else? How can you do the things that you want to do and be who you want to be and not aim for the things that you ultimately want? How can you be and live and still care? If you’re not thinking about and aiming for what you want, then what do you do? Doing is the only thing I really understand. I do, and I expect a result to come from that doing. I always thought that was how it was supposed to work.
I don’t really understand this “being” thing. To my brain, if you’re just being, then you’re not doing, and it’s like settling into a kind of mindless apathy. You have to care, you have to strive, that’s how things happen, right? If not, what do you do? And see, I can’t think of anything without it coming down to doing. I can’t grasp a life without actionable steps.
That quote and the ideas flooding my mind are confusing. If you’re not supposed to chase happiness (or money or love), then what do you do? Do you think about it? Do you still want? I certainly don’t want to be stuck in my current life forever, or one like it. I want better and more. Is there a difference between wanting and striving and chasing? What’s okay and what’s not? Are you supposed to just give up and let life give you whatever it wants? How could anyone live like that?
It does seem like the chasing may be a bad thing, but I don’t know what else to do. I want what I want and I know that I’d be happier if I got what I want. If I’m not aiming for and wanting for better, won’t the universe just think I’m happy where I am and give me more of the same? It makes me think of all that Buddhist stuff about attachment, which I’ve never really understood. It hurts my head.
If you’re not supposed to chase what you want, what do you do instead? How can you get what you want if you’re not actively going after it? Is there some other way of approaching it that I’m not thinking of? I realize that the “I want it → I don’t have it → I’m unhappy → I want it” cycle isn’t a good one, but don’t we all think that if we do the right thing then we can get what we want, break the cycle and be happy? There’s got to be a way, because there are happy people in the world who have and continue to get what they want. Too bad I don’t know any of them so I could ask how they did it.