The Eternal Question: What is Happiness?

Brad Dawson, Writer

Let’s say John, an average American citizen, reads a book stating that in order to have a truly happy life, he needs to work hard, amass wealth, and die rich. Pretty standard model. But what if through personal circumstances John can’t hold down a job?

Suddenly happiness, which seemed a stone’s throw away, is getting farther and farther away. Now John has two options: remain on this other person’s “path to happiness” or find a new path.

Remaining on the current path will do nothing for him, so John decides to find a new path. Now he turns to another book that catches his eye. The author says that the road to happiness is found through marriage.

After five years of courting someone, John gets down on one knee, she says yes, and the two live happily ever after. That is, until the first pangs of doubt enter John’s mind. Could there be more to life than this? He loses faith in the decision, and finds, to his horror, he is no longer happy.

Book after book, philosophy after philosophy, person after person, will tell us how to find happiness. Our parents, our friends, and our heroes will all provide to us their road to happiness, but you are not them.

This took me years to figure out, that my road was not the same as my friend’s or parents’. Once this brief moment of clarity was over, I had made my choice. I was going to walk my own path without doubt or regret.

Some of the road will be well worn, and other parts new territory, but it is a constant tale of me trying new things and experiences in an effort to find something that I enjoy. Some days it’s great, other days painful, but that’s just how life is structured. One day I plan to rest by a pool side, both in joy and content, but I will never know how to get there if I don’t walk my path first.

The people around us keep saying that we are either right or wrong in our paths to happiness. Only when one can speak with conviction and faith that they are following their path to happiness, is one truly happy. Otherwise there will still be doubt and uncertainty in one’s life.

All I know about the path to happiness is this:

Walk, and no matter what happens, keep on walking…