For a long time, I have struggled with the societal drive to “be happy.” I once subscribed to this notion. “Yes! I want to be happy. How do I get there?” I strived to arrive at happiness but could never remain. And then I realized – the pursuit of happiness is nothing more than a maze that has no exit. It’s an impossible pursuit and fairly shortsighted.
Why? Because happiness is fleeting. That is its remarkably intoxicating nature. And that’s not a bad thing. But we cannot turn a fleeting state of being into a constant state. Nor should we.
What if we replaced this incessant hunt for happiness with a deep appreciation for the beautiful moments in which we experience it? What if we embraced happiness in its impermanent, seductive glory and bathed in its brilliance when it visits, without trying to hold onto it? What if we let it go trusting its return?
In place of happiness, I propose the pursuit of feeling alive – fully engaged in life and all the states of being and emotion it encompasses. Rather than limiting our experience to simply “good” emotions and feelings, what if we allowed ourselves to feel everything?
What if there was no bad emotion? What if there was no good emotion? What if all emotions simply provided insight? What if you are the one that assigns value to the emotion and have the power to change it?
These are not what-ifs. These are truths.
It’s not the emotions that are good or bad – but how we act in response to them. For example, anger can fuel violence, but it can also fuel activism. Joy can fuel creativity, but it can also fuel recklessness. We have been collectively trained to see emotions as either good or bad, but we can unlearn this.
You are alive, which in and of itself shows that you are resilient. You are strong. You are a survivor. We have all survived something. We have all endured pain we thought would break us and are still here proving that it didn’t. So take this beautiful, crazy, messy life and find what lights you up. Work towards your dreams. Live boldly. Know that there will be pain, joy, heartbreak, love, loneliness, community, failure, and success along the way. Make it your mission to do what makes you feel the most alive and embrace everything that comes along the way.
Join me in my pursuit to live life fully engaged, fully alive.