It’s a strange paradox, but a true one. The minute we stop searching for something – the perfect partner, the big promotion, the dream apartment – always seems to be the moment that we find it. We pine for these things, sometimes for years, convinced that our very happiness rests in their acquisition. We frustrate ourselves. We neglect other things in our lives. We miss so many chances for happiness in the current moment. We run ourselves ragged. We try too hard.
Eventually, we find ourselves with no choice but to give up the search for perfection and seek acceptance in its place.
The irony comes in the idea that, as soon as we decide we don’t need this thing to make us happy anymore…there it is.
Is this phenomenon some kind of magic – or is the truth simply that our perception has changed?
When we open our hearts up to acceptance, we are able to enjoy what life actually does have in store for us, rather than chasing after what it doesn’t.
When we are on a quest for perfection – in our love lives, our careers, or anything else – what we are really after is a sense of control that we as human beings do not have. Once we give up our search for it, we find the freedom to pursue and enjoy the things life actually does have in store for us. In this, we can ironically find the sense of pleasure and fulfillment that the aforementioned sense of control would never have given us anyway.
As human beings, we tend to give ourselves far too much credit. We think we know what is best for ourselves. When I get accepted to medical school, we might reason, I will be happy. Our desires may run in a different direction, but the thought process, and its fatal error, remain the same. When I become pregnant, when I start making more money, when I lose twenty pounds, when I meet the right person…
This thought process is common – even expected and unavoidable as a part of the human experience.
But how often have you seen it work?
Happiness doesn’t come from chasing after the things we don’t have. It comes from embracing and nurturing the things that we do.
Maybe your biological father is not great, but you were given a wonderful step-dad, a loving grandfather, or another great role model. You can choose to chase a toxic relationship, or you can nurture a mutually healthy one.
Maybe you had always dreamed of a high-powered career and fast-paced single life in the city, but ended up with a fourth child instead.
You can choose to find joy and fulfillment in your family life – or you can neglect it in favor of chasing something that’s not even real anymore.
Ironically, our personal concept of the thing we could have had is almost always overrated in the first place. It rarely – if ever – would have brought along the happiness we’d pictured.
Luckily, real life is here – and it can.
The tendency to focus on what isn’t in our lives is human nature – but it’s not the way to happiness or fulfillment on any real sort of level. We need to pivot our focus. Look at the things that do make up your life. Take stock of your relationships, your unexpected joys, and your natural talents. Are you nurturing these things, or are you choosing to neglect them for what isn’t real? Once you start giving credit to the blessings in your life, you may find that it is already much richer than you Chasing think.