Pursuing peace instead of happiness

For the first few years after we are born, and if we are lucky, we get to live in the ignorant bliss that childhood provides. During this period of time, our choices are limited. We mostly take whatever is given to us.

For the first few years after we are born, and if we are lucky, we get to live in the ignorant bliss that childhood provides. During this period of time, our choices are limited. We mostly take whatever is given to us. Our roles and worries are limited too, because we’ve got people to think for us and plan for us and worry for us. It is easy to be happy, peaceful and free.

But then we get older and suddenly everything about our existence is on us. Who we want to be. Where we want to live. What we want to accomplish. What we have to do to survive. We are now adults and our actions and choices are highly defining; they can make or break us.

 

A handful of people make a smooth transition into adulthood. They finish school, get jobs, get married and have kids. They do not make big plans or experience big changes. Their lives are mundane and unaltered to the very end.

 

Most of us, however, often face challenges that result in existential crises. Joblessness. Heartbreak. The death of loved ones. Sickness. Disappointment. Failure to, or difficulty in achieving dreams.

 

Amidst all this, we make the mistake of pursing happiness instead of pursuing peace.We try to attainthat happiness through people, places or things.

But the truth is that happiness is illusive. Pursuing it is fruitless and vain because something is always amiss. People leave. Places and things stop exciting us after a little while.

Peace, on the other hand, is attainable, free and sustainable. And it only requires one thing; the realization that we are human.

What this means essentiallyis that we ought to put our best foot forward, yes. But we shouldstay completely aware that we could have the right attitude, be very determined and do everything that books on success tellus, and still reap nothing. Our best efforts do not guarantee anything. There are always other forces at play.

The realization that we are human should also lead us to humility. To know that there is only so much we can control or change. To know that sometimes people will try us poorly for no reason. That sometimes we will be financially overwhelmed. That sometimes no matter how careful we try to be, we will make mistakes and poor choices and they will have detrimental consequences.

This is not to say that we ought to have a defeatist attitude. It is okay to want what we want and even go hard after it. But we shouldn’t wait to feel satisfied only after we have been successful in our pursuits because the truth is that we are insatiable, always looking for the next thing.

But we can make peace with ourselves. With where we are and what we have at the moment. We can make peace with the fact that we are doing our very best. And in truth, peace is a lot like happiness, only long-lasting in comparison.

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