Are you happy? The question is a touchstone for our culture. It’s our ultimate goal, the final measure by which we judge our lives. We seek happiness through personal relationships, family and work. It is parents’ often stated goal for their children: “We just want them to be happy.” It’s seen as more valuable that even wealth: “Money doesn’t buy happiness.”
The Founding Fathers’ inclusion of “the pursuit of happiness” as an inalienable right in the Declaration of Independence was revolutionary. They were reflecting the 18th century Enlightenment view that individuals should be free to grow in knowledge and fulfillment. Now 250 years later our society continues to reflect those ideals. Sure, we all want to be happy, but is there something more to life?
We all want the exhilaration of being part of something larger than ourselves. Team sports, clubs, patriotism, even religion draw on this primal impulse. We want to know that our being here has made a difference, to leave a legacy beyond ourselves. We want our lives to mean something. The elusive happiness we seek is more than just pleasure, contentment or lack of pain. It’s about discovering our unique path, unfolding our full potential.
“Man’s character is his fate” in the words of the philosopher Heraclitus.
Your destiny is the reflection of your character, your unique traits played out. Your life is your DNA manifested. What is your full potential? Don’t sell yourself short. Scientists today claim that 95% of DNA is “junk DNA,” meaning they don’t know its function. Psychologists often say we only use about 5-10% of our mental capacity.
How can you unfold your potential? Listen to your own inner voice. Your inner GPS is guiding you. Wordsworth wrote that we enter the world “trailing clouds of glory,” that our birth is but “a sleep and a forgetting.” Our intrinsic vision may be clouded over time by the noise of society, but it’s always there. When you’re doing something you love, that’s natural, that you’re passionate about, you feel you’re on the right path. You exude a personal magnetism and charisma that attracts others - and success. The Greek word for happiness - or flourishing - was “eudaimonia,” being “well-led” by your own inner spirit. When you’re out of synch you intuitively feel off balance, dissatisfied.
Living is a process of change. Who we are at ages 5, 15 and 50 is very different. The template’s always updating. As we evolve, our territory of influence expands. We need to upgrade the software. Just as in a room there may be wi-fi hot spots, radio and satellite TV frequencies we can tune into, so all around us are latent possibilities we can activate. In the words of Aldous Huxley, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.” We just need to download the software.
Often when we’re about to change direction we already start to tune into new patterns of thought and behavior, ways of seeing the world. Creative visionaries click into a new frequency and then manifest it. Think of Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Such forces can change the world. Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come. It starts with you. “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
What’s your vision? Listen to your inner prompts. Where’s your passion? Your niche? Do you foresee a chain of successful stores? Love creating custom art jewelry? Shine when you interact with customers, offering the personal touch? Perhaps you’ve invented a new manufacturing process? Are you a marketing whiz? A fashion maven? Reawaken your dream and “follow your bliss.” The more you’re directing your own life the more successful - and free - you’ll be.
Life is about growth and expansion. Enjoy the process. Imagine beyond happiness. Discovering and manifesting your dream is the key.