The image in my mind of the pursuit of happiness is a poor donkey clopping hopefully behind a carrot that’s dancing just beyond its nose. We are taught that this keeps the non-rational beast moving and we imagine the donkey gets the carrot as a reward at the end of a long day’s journey. This idea of happiness as a reward is stuck like velcro to the notion of our inalienable right to pursue happiness – you just can’t get there from here unless conditions are met.
The conditions to be met are endless – look at the headlines – weight loss, true love, mansion, world peace, a yellow Ferrari. But that kind of happiness isn’t for everyone. That brand is too rare, costs too much, and is as fleeting as a breeze across a summer pond. Happiness is not a goal attained, a peak experience with inevitable valleys in between. Authentic happiness is far simpler, a more constant state – as common as a garden – and you are standing in it right now.
Happiness is a moment-to-moment choice to pick a daisy from the abundant fields of blooms that surround us all at all times. Even in the storms of life, when we face doubt or fear or loss, we can choose to gather what is lovely to us in any moment. A kind word, a sunset, a poem, a touch can remind us that love infuses the tapestry of life the same way the sun nurtures landscape or cityscape equally.
You don’t have to be anywhere in particular, do anything deserving. You don’t have to be handsome, slim, or rich. But you do have to be something: fully human in all your senses and keenly aware of all that surrounds you in the present moment. There are no conditions for happiness. Indeed, like love, happiness strengthens and sustains us, floating us like a boat on a lake through calm and storm.
Happiness is not an either/or with struggle, stress, or sadness. It is the container for all that is experienced in our daily life. Happiness is always there when we condition our eyes to see and our hearts to know. It is the blue sky on the morning when one you love is released from suffering and slips free from life. It is the rapture of your pet when you fall through the door exhausted from a long day. It is slipping into a hot fragrant tub when you are cold. It is meeting the smile of another through the eyes and knowing yourself seen. It is sitting with a friend who must weep.
Happiness is the state of gratitude for all that makes life tender and beautiful. Happiness is abundant and ever-present, strewing gifts on our path of life – there for our seeing and taking. Happiness is indeed a field of daisies – gifts of unembellished beauty and simple abundance here and now. All we have to do is pick it.