Why Does Happiness Never Last?

Imagine that when you were very young – just beginning to speak – your parents gave you a picture of a beautiful landscape: a green lush meadow with hundreds of multicolored flowers in the middle, a clear-water river joyously running on the right, several cute wooden village houses huddling together on the left and snow-topped mountains in the back reflecting the bright sunshine into the valley. The name of the picture was “Happiness.”

You loved it immensely. It was placed on the wall right in front of your bed and you spent countless hours staring at it, feeling love, peace and happiness every time.

As you were growing up, thoughts about the realness of this image began visiting you: “Does this landscape truly exist? If it does, then where is it? Is it in a distant country or just around some corner? Would I be able to find it?” The feeling of contentment that you used to experience looking at the meadow was gradually replaced with a desire to visit the place.

The desire, the longing and the anxiety were growing stronger just as you began hearing calls for action: calls not to live a mediocre life, not to play it small, calls to create the life of your dreams, to do what makes you happy and to get what is your birthright…. You decided that living by that meadow was your birthright and that it would make you very happy. You were ready to take action and no one was going to stop you!!

One day you woke up very early, packed your small backpack, put on your hiking boots and left to create the life of your dreams. You travelled very long distances, visited many foreign countries, met many different people, but couldn’t find the landscape anywhere. The views on your way were unique and absolutely stunning, the people were very friendly and their stories were fascinating, but none of that mattered to you because you were on a mission and nothing could quench your thirst, except for the landscape that you were seeking.

After years and years of exhausting searching, you were about to give up. The backpack was zipped and tied again, the boots were on and you were heading home to tell everyone that you had been evilly deceived, that that landscape had been created by the wild imagination of the artist and did not exist in real life and therefore, you were doomed to be unhappy your whole life because nothing else would ever be a good substitute for it.

Before leaving the village, you decided to stop by the local coffee shop to get some breakfast on your way back home. While sipping your tea, you were feeling bitter and disillusioned, thinking about all the time wasted, all the miles travelled in vain and all the dreams crushed. You were thinking just how unfair, unjust and mean life was when your eyes accidentally stopped on the window next to your table. Your jaw dropped and the tea cup slipped out of your hands, spilling tea all over the table and floor – THERE IT WAS!!! THE LANDSCAPE!!! AN EXACT COPY OF THE PICTURE ON YOUR WALL!!!…

You were on cloud nine during the remaining summer months, enjoying the blissful happiness from having your dream come true, hiking the mountains, taking millions of pictures of the meadow, meeting locals…, but the natural flow of life continued, as it always does…

The fall came and the landscape began changing. You were shocked and totally devastated to notice that! “Why can’t everything stay the same? Why does it need to change? Why does happiness never last? Why….?”

The people around you could not understand your frustration. All the villagers marveled at the changing colors, the new beauty of the landscape and the abundant harvest that the change of seasons had brought. They were planning a big celebration to express their gratitude to Earth for all its gifts: enough wonderful food to last everyone the winter and keep them all strong and healthy, and all the beauty around them. No one shared your grief, so you decided to leave; your departure fell on the day of the village festival.

On your way to the bus station, you were crossing the village square, where various festivities were taking place: the harvest was being proudly displayed, food was cooking, music was playing, people were dancing… Suddenly two widely-smiling girls dressed in traditional costumes flew to you, pulled off your backpack, threw it into the grass by the nearby fence, grabbed your hands and with lots of jokes and laughter, pulled you into a huge circle consisting of the residents of this village – young and old – happily dancing to the music of a small live band to the side.

“BUT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND!!!” You yelled to your dance partners, trying to be heard over all the noise. “This landscape doesn’t look like the one in my picture anymore!!!” “Can’t you see that that means I CAN’T be happy any longer?” “Can’t you see that this is proof that life is unfair and that happiness never lasts long???”

Your voice was being drowned by the loud music, laughter and the stamping of hundreds of feet. You angrily yanked your hands out of the hands of the girls holding them, stepped out of the dancing circle, picked up your backpack and headed home, feeling lonely, misunderstood and unhappy…

sebastian-unrau-41230-unsplash
Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

 

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