Happiness can be elusive.

Happiness can be elusive

If you set out to find it you may find yourself on a long journey that frustratingly takes you further away from where you want to be. Many people have found their quest for happiness was a futile venture that resulted in disappointment and defeat and consequently brought them the opposite of what they sought — unhappiness!

It’s a process

The reason the search for happiness frequently fails is because happiness is not a tangible asset, it’s a subjective experience and part of a dynamic process that results in the outcome of happiness. The secret to happiness then, is to discover the ingredients that are necessary for this process to develop and then to seek these out instead. By doing so, you are will increase your chances of success.

Seeking what you desire

For instance, imagine someone really desires a cake, one that is a creamy, chocolaty, gooey — centered, sweet delight. Mmmm, they think about it about how it would look and smell and how that delicious sweetness would taste in their mouth as it melted on their tongue. They visualise the first bite as they sink their teeth into that soft, enticing delicacy, savouring every crumb, and licking their lips to enjoy the very last morsel.

Now, imagine this person knows that this cake exists because they other people have described their experience of it. Full of excitement and anticipation they find their way to a location where they think it exists and start to look for it. They open cupboards but the first few are empty or contain other objects that are of no interest. They keep searching but in vain, as time and time again they fail to find what they are looking for. At first they are able to maintain an air of optimism but after a while they begin to feel disappointment and eventually they lose all hope of ever finding the cake they have imagined and desperately wanted. Finally, they give up and accept the fact that this cake is not for them. They may think, perhaps I don’t deserve it, perhaps I was never destined to have it in the first place and perhaps it’s just not meant to be? They feel dejected, disappointed, frustrated and maybe even a little bitter and resentful — after all it’s really not fair!

The bigger picture

You see, when they looked for cake, all they found were things like butter, eggs, flour, icing sugar, bars of chocolate, tubs of cream, pots and pans, spoons and bowls. In a cruel twist of fate, they even came across a book called ‘recipes’ which had a picture of the perfect cake they so wanted.

And so it is with happiness. To experience true happiness, you first have to have in your possession certain ingredients and resources that you wll need. What these are vary between each person but what they have in common is that they are the things that give life meaning and purpose, which ultimately results in the feelings of happiness.

Have your cake and eat it

Happiness comes in all shapes and sizes and sometimes you can have your cake and eat it! You may even be lucky enough to enjoy it with a cherry on the top (and a few sprinkles!).

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Originally published at medium.com