A few days ago, I read a great article on Medium: The Pursuit of Happiness v2.0 by Mike Sturm. Mike suggests that the concept of pursuing happiness is outdated. True happiness is found by being present in our everyday moments.
I agree wholeheartedly. But as I was pondering the article and reflecting on my own experiences, I couldn’t help but feel that there’s a lot of good that comes from pursuing happiness, too. I realized that in many instances, I enjoy the anticipation much more than the thing itself.
Here’s what mindfulness has taught me about happiness.
Let’s Start with Food
Food makes me really, really happy, okay? Or at least thinking about it does. I’ve always been a dessert person, but in recent years I’ve tried to be more mindful of my enjoyment as I consume sweets. I ask myself: is this worth it?
Most of the time, surprisingly, the answer is no.
Three things I’ve learned about myself + food:
- I may crave sweets, but when the circumstances are right, my favorite indulgence is a nice pile of loaded fries. So maybe savory rules the day?
- Food rarely lives up to expectations. If you’re eating something for the first time and find yourself really loving it, savor that. This is where mindfulness is the bomb. It will probably be not-quite-as-good if you eat it again.
- When eating dessert, the first few bites are the most pleasurable. Don’t save the best parts for last; eat them first! Pay attention. When you’re not loving it anymore, stop.
Where Mindfulness Gets It Right
Moments that are more joyful when I’m mindful:
- A pleasant (usually solo) stroll outdoors in nice weather.
- A deep conversation.
- Those rare times when I wake up feeling 100% comfortable and content.
- Most of all, laughing with my daughter.
Note: these are all simple things, and for the most part they’re free!
I could probably add many more moments to this list, but I’d rather you use the time to discover your best mindful moments.
A Case for the Pursuit of Happiness
I’m going to reiterate now: in many scenarios, anticipation of the thing is better than the thing itself. And maybe it’s okay to embrace that.
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” ~ Greg Anderson
When our lives are empty of purpose, there can be no happiness. It’s okay to continually strive to be better. It’s okay to want things, to dream things for the future that you can’t have now… as long as you’re mindful of finding joy along the way.
To find happiness along the journey, the key is acknowledging progress. Note the milestones, however small, and celebrate them. This is not new advice, I know, but it is worth saying.
And when — when — you’ve achieved your dream, have a few bites of cake and a glass of wine and move on to the next one ❤.
- Both mindfulness and reflection are key to discovering what really makes you happy.
- Anticipation can be awesome, and is sometimes better embraced than explored.
- Pursue your dream of happiness… but be sure to find joy in the journey!