Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

One of my favorite books is The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Even if you haven't read anything by him, you may be familiar with his idea about 'following your bliss'.

By following your bliss, he is not referring to living a life of hedonism or doing whatever you want without regard to others, but he is speaking of doing whatever it is that is the 'thing' that really makes you feel fulfilled and alive. Our lives are so short and if we're not waking up in the morning with that excited expectation of doing something we really love, life can definitely be a struggle. Obviously, even when we are doing something we love or serving people we love, it can sometimes be difficult. No one ever said life would be easy, but I think that when we follow our bliss or what we feel is our 'purpose in life', then the struggles don't feel like struggles but more like opportunities to grow and learn.

Some other Campbell quotes I like are:

“The way to find out about happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy — not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what is called following your bliss.”

“The adventure of the hero is the adventure of being alive”

“Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.”

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

I was thinking about this last quote (about how to 'let go' and 'accept' and the same time) when I decided to wander over again to The Happiness Project. One of Gretchen's articles was talking about embracing many of life's paradoxes.

She gives a quote by Vikram Chandra in his novel Sacred Games:
“Sartaj was thinking about how uncanny an animal this life was, that you had to seize it and let go of it at the same time, that you had to enjoy but also plan, live every minute and die every moment.”

She then goes on to list some more of life's paradoxes:
I want to Be Gretchen and accept myself, but I also want to perfect my nature (as this entire project demonstrates). I want to think about myself so I can forget myself. I want to work on my own happiness so I can make other people happier.
I want to lighten up and not take myself so seriously — but I also want to take myself more seriously.
I want to spend my time efficiently and not waste it, but I also want to wander, to play, to fail, to read at whim. I want to keep an empty shelf, and also keep a junk drawer.
I want to be free from envy and fear of the future, and live fully in the present moment -- but not to lose my ambition.
Control and mastery are key elements of happiness; so are novelty and challenge.
Everything matters, and nothing matters. As Samuel Butler wrote in his Notebooks, “Everything matters more than we think it does, and, at the same time, nothing matters so much as we think it does. The merest spark may set all Europe in a blaze, but though all Europe be set in a blaze twenty times over, the world will wag itself right again.”
So in this world of paradoxes, how does one pursue happiness? You don't. Like the elusive bluebird of happiness, its usually found when you stop looking for it.

Some Happiness quotes I like:
The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase: if you pursue happiness you'll never find it. ~C.P. Snow

If you want to be happy, be. ~Leo Tolstoy

Happiness is never stopping to think if you are. ~Palmer Sondreal

Most people would rather be certain they're miserable, than risk being happy. ~Robert Anthony

If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time. ~Edith Wharton

Nobody really cares if you're miserable, so you might as well be happy. ~Cynthia Nelms

Happiness is always a by-product. It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular. But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness. ~Robertson Davies

Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad. ~Norm Papernick

Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it. ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner. ~Colette

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet. ~James Openheim

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open. ~John Barrymore

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost. ~H. Jackson Browne

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want. ~Margaret Young

Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. ~Frederick Keonig

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Happiness is a direction, not a place. ~Sydney J. Harris

A great obstacle to happiness is to expect too much happiness. ~Bernard de Fontenelle

Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. ~Joseph Addison

Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blazes are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks. ~Samuel Johnson

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. ~Robert Brault,

Some pursue happiness, others create it. ~Author Unknown

If you ever find happiness by hunting for it, you will find it, as the old woman did her lost spectacles, safe on her own nose all the time. ~Josh Billings

Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn't stop to enjoy it. ~William Feather

Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response. ~Mildred Barthel

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling. ~Margaret Lee Runbeck


Tanya (a Taste of T) said...

I love these quotes. Thank you for sharing them today. I fully agree that when you live from your passion, life is amazing.

Lady Grey said...

those are some fantastic quotes... I love the one that says happiness is a direction, not a place. So true!

Holly Renee said...

I absolutely love Joseph Campbell's words. I love the one about matching our nature with nature. Great post!


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