October 8

The unconventional pursuit of happiness


One month on from the day I started anew on an unconventional path, my idealism is suffering.

However, I climbed from rock bottom to learn that I’m finally embracing reality.

You know that ancient saying which goes, “Success doesn’t happen overnight”? Well, my ‘can do’ attitude has always denied me a full comprehension of that piece of wisdom. Firstly, I envisioned that things would fall into place for me fairly quickly, I would meet people who will lead me on to my desired destination, and my projects will work out brilliantly.

Then, I will be happy.

This is all fine and dandy in principle. However, the reality unveils in a painstakingly slow motion…

But as one may say, C’est la vie. In fact, I am going to embrace pain and depression as my best friend. Because it is all part of life. I am going to understand that happiness should not be one’s single goal in life:

“I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that – I don’t mind people being happy – but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position – it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.”

Hugh Mackay, psychologist and social researcher

I used to think that with success comes happiness – the achievement, admiration, respect, being around people I love and who loves me back, feeling free, getting lots of sleep, eating well and good, skipping down the pavement on a summer’s day. And happiness is all I ever wanted.

But get real. Reality check. For every ounce of happiness that life throws at you, you will get a fair share of mundane loneliness, disappointment and pain. Sure, we don’t announce pain as much as we advertise happiness. I mean, how long can you stay in a state of transcendental explosion of rapturous fulfilment?

Take Dr. Mackay’s words on board today and understand that pain is not an enemy, but a muse to tell us that rock bottom is low enough for anyone to go down to (and there really isn’t any deeper you can plunge into). Now, blooming rise. It should be onwards and upwards now. No one can help you but yourself. We don’t need no hero. We are our own hero.


depression, happiness, pain, reality, suffering

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