It’s there. You hear it. It’s a low, constant whisper.
In the dark, it’s there. You feel it. It is in your bosom — burning — a slow, glowing smolder. He feels it too. Lying next to you, scenes are filling his mind, and he moves a little closer.
He feels it too.
And the next day, as you walk the halls in your office, you see the smiles that signal they know. Familiar faces and words are just a cover, like a simple camouflage to blend in. Underneath the chatter, you can hear it. The power walks, the watches and jewelry, the shoes and personal fragrances, the smiles and laughs all call out to you, because they know.
The other drivers on your busy commute back home. They all seem to be traveling the same way you are. It is driving them. You can tell; you can see it in the way they shine their instruments. They want you to notice. They have heard it, too. They have felt it.
You settle in and power on the glowing screen. You see it there too. The images parading before you certainly scream of it. The projection shines of big, loud, burning desire. Your eyes are unmoved and they are filling your mind with it. Again.
We crave it.
It consumes you. It consumes us. That desire — it’s there. We crave it. It drives our entire existence.
It has whispered and burned for centuries. It stays hidden and spreads quietly because no one seems to talk about it. But we all know.
Do you know it?
Merrium Webster says “\’hap-e-nes\ n : enjoying one’s condition :content :joyful :feeling or showing pleasure.”
The founders of this country defined it as one of the fundamentally important rights that are endowed upon each of us — Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. They even gave it a capital letter.
Walk into any two-story commercial bookstore. Take the escalator and the aisles are overflowing with this same question. Entire departments of shelves stack the pages of self-help and gurus that enchantingly tell you of the pleasurable secrets they know.
…pursuit of Happiness.
But just what IS happiness? It certainly isn’t new. How do we define it? And why do we seek it so much? Why do we have to seek at all?
The Textbook Definition
If we look at the dictionary, it is a noun. Happiness is a noun. It is a thing.
Does that mean that other THINGS define happiness? Do tangible things like clothes, and houses, and cars, and stuff define happiness? They are things, too. We sure do have a lot of stuff. Is it something you can hold in your hand? Can you physically touch happiness? Can you gather enough for yourself? Maybe you can collect enough stuff, and then you will have a measure of happiness.
Perhaps it is a place — a point on the map. Let’s track it down. Let us go to that place. Is it a place we can circle on a map and point to with a finger? Please give us the GPS coordinates for the place of happiness. Maybe we can use transportation to get there. Automobile? Too simple. Boat? To exotic. Airplane? Perhaps- but that means the destination is far, and probably too expensive. Maybe we can just walk.
And if we look at the published description above, the dictionary describes it as enjoying, feeling, and showing. We’ve learned in second grade that those words are verbs. Verbs are action words. Does that mean that happiness can also be a verb? Doing. Actions like skiing, or surfing, or climbing, or building, or creating? In this wording, happiness is the act. This describes happiness as, not the car, but the act of driving. It is not the number of friends, but the laughing. It is not the size of the home, but the living.
It is not the size of the home, but the living.
I say, “yes.” Yes to it all.
This is happiness.
It may be found within the covers of a book.
It may be found on the glowing screen.
It can be found on a map.
It can be felt in your bosom.
It can also be held in your hand.
But it is not greed.
Happiness is incredibly personal. It is too big for words to describe it.
Pull out that map.
Take that bookstore escalator.
Watch that movie.
Drive that car.
Sip that coffee.
Hug that person.
Tell that joke.
Happiness is there. It’s always there.
And it is a person, place or thing. And it is a verb. And it is a journey. It is a place.
Have it. Do it. Find it. Be there.