Dear Pharrell, we need to talk.
“I just want to be happy.”
“I was so unhappy at that job, so I quit.”
“Do whatever makes you happy.”
“That guys didn’t make me happy, so we broke up.”
“You deserve to be happy.”
“She needs to get happy.”
How many times have you heard happiness described as a person’s reason for doing something or as their ultimate objective? Pretty frequently, I’d imagine. Happiness, smiling faces, the warm and fuzzies are used as the end goal for far too many people. Happiness, in my opinion, should never be your goal nor your purpose.
Happiness is an emotion: a fleeting, insubstantial, situationally dependent distraction. Despite what Pharrell Williams says, happiness is not the truth. In my experience, happiness is often deceptive. It’s a comfortable lie that permits solace and selfishness above all.
I don’t care that much if I’m happy. Happy, for me, is neither an end goal nor a mode of transportation, if you buy into the idea that it’s the journey not the destination that matters. I’m not all about happiness.
This may come as bit of a surprise as most people know me to be a cheerful, optimistic person. No really, I am. In my world the glass is at least half-full (air fills the top part – duh!), every cloud has a silver lining (or gold if you think that’s more stylish), the power of positive thinking really does prevail, and good wins.
When I look at my life now, I have absolutely no reason not to be happy. Life is good. I have a wonderful husband who cares for me and is a great provider; an amazing family who is always there when I need them; friends on whom I can rely; a job I enjoy and that has so much potential; a roof over my head, clothes on my back, makeup on my counter and a handbag in the crook of my arm that contains access to money in my bank account. And what’s more, I’ve got no worries because the God of the Universe is in control and sent Jesus to pave the way for me to spend eternity worshiping God forever and ever, amen! What more could I possibly want?
The thing is, I am happy with my life. (Again, how could I not be?)
And what’s more, when I had a much more difficult life in the not-too-distant-past, I was still a cheerful, optimistic, and yes, happy person.
But happy not enough, not fulfilling.
Praise the Lord, happy is not enough!
I’ve observed in my own life and in the lives of many accomplished, have-it-all kind of people that happiness doesn’t matter. You can have everything you ever want and still be miserable. You can have nothing and live in abject poverty and still be a “happy” person.
So if being happy is insufficient, what is enough?
I don’t think that life is about being happy. I know that I wasn’t born just to be happy. I wasn’t given talent, brains, abilities and determination to be happy (neither were you, BTW). No. There’s something more out there: a purpose, an objective, a mission, a drive. Something that calls to me rain or shine – that makes toil worth it wether or not I’m smiling as I do it.
It’s not enough just to be happy. Having a mission, or a calling, something that satisfies a person’s need to matter and to influence the world around them, to create, to grow – having that, pursuing that is so much better than being happy.
I’ve not quite yet developed what that thing is for me. But it’s percolating, and like the perfect cup of coffee, it takes a little time to brew. But one thing I know for sure – I wasn’t put on this earth to be happy. I was put on this earth for a reason bigger than myself, to do something awesome.
That’s why happiness is not enough.