Is Happiness Like a Butterfly?
Sometimes we treat happiness like it’s an elusive butterfly in the garden of life. Imagine a young child in the garden on a summer day. He sees a beautiful butterfly flitting from flower to flower. He wants to see it close up, touch it, and hold it in his hands. But as he moves towards the flower that the butterfly is resting on, just as he gets within reach, the butterfly moves to another flower. And so the child follows the butterfly to the next flower, and then the next. But the butterfly always stays just out of reach.
Even to adults, happiness can seem just like that butterfly: always just out of reach. It can become almost an obsession and the words “if only…” become an increasingly large part of our thoughts and vocabulary. “If only I had more money I would be happy, if only I was in a great relationship I would be happy, if only I could have a different job…” and the list goes on. This kind of thought life doesn’t lead to greater happiness.
If we achieve one of our “if only “desires, the happiness we seek somehow manages to stay just out of our reach. Do you remember the expression about the grass being greener on the other side? It’s the same idea.
Where does happiness come from?
The truth is, we won’t be completely satisfied by external events or circumstances. To find happiness in life we must first be at peace internally. External events and circumstances can bring us happiness in the moment, but they do not have a lasting effect on our inner self. Life brings a mixture of good and bad circumstances to everyone. To rely on life’s experiences for our source of happiness would mean living life in a constant emotional roller coaster ride. Wouldn’t it be better to learn to have a steady feeling of contentment rather than be at the mercy of circumstances and be tossed from the high and low feelings like a ship in a storm?
Happiness comes from within. The inner contentment that survives the roller coaster ride of life has its roots deep within our being. The source of happiness comes from finding and embracing who we are as a person, and living a life of purpose. We need to find peace in every aspect of our life- the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Acceptance, purpose and peace in all of these areas will give a sense of completion in life.
Is happiness an elusive butterfly for you? Spend some time in quiet reflection. Are you neglecting one of the four important parts of who you are and experiencing a sense of emptiness within? The more you discover, embrace and accept your uniqueness and purpose, the more you will be able to stop chasing the elusive butterfly of happiness and instead experience the butterfly of happiness coming to you and alighting on your shoulder.
You can read more about finding a sense of happiness within yourself in the first chapter of my book, 21 Days to Happiness, Day 1 on gratitude.
Business Psychologist/Happiness Expert