He spots a butterfly. Runs towards it and tries to catch it. The butterfly flies away, with him chasing after it. Over and over he tries without success. He is my two-year old grandson.
But why? I ask myself while watching him.
Why does he keep on chasing the butterfly?
Does he think it can play with him?
Does he only want to touch it, feel it, experience its beauty?
Does he think holding it will make him happy?
Is he simply chasing it because it is a new experience?
As I watch him trying to catch the butterfly over and over again without success , it reminds me of people in general. Looking around me, I see people running and running trying to catch the elusive butterfly of happiness.
We chase after worldly possessions, new experiences, new relationships, new looks, in a never ending quest to catch the elusive butterfly of happiness.
But what does being happy mean?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary happiness is :
a state of well-being and contentment, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.
This seems to imply that being happy is a feeling, brought about by the pursuit of pleasure, and the avoidance of pain.
A realistic goal? No.
This kind of happiness can only be found when all else is taken care of. In an ever-changing world filled with uncertainty, both economically, politically and emotionally, finding pleasure and experiencing no pain or negativity is truly like the elusive butterfly. It always sits on the next bush to be chased after, only to fail in catching it.
Life is never perfect and always harbours a surprise just around the next corner. Accidents happen, relationships come and go, health changes in the blink of an eye, economic status fluctuates without warning. All this leave us gasping for air and wondering where happiness has fled to.
Being happy lies in finding the ability to be content no matter what the circumstances are. It is to smile when it is raining, to be grateful for the small things, to rejoice in every relationship which has meaning, to assist others less fortunate, to enjoy every day no matter what it brings.
The apostle Paul describes it in the following words:
I know what it’s like not to have what I need. I also know what it’s like to have more than I need. I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens. I am content whether I am well fed or hungry. I am content whether I have more than enough or not enough. Philippians 4 :12
Above all life has taught me to be happy, is to know myself, to accept who I am and where I am to be content with my own companionship, for no one else is responsible for my happiness and contentment.
Writing this piece about happiness is to remind myself to stop chasing the elusive butterfly of happiness, as it will always sit on the next bush. To keep on chasing after it will cause more feelings of discontent and unhappiness. Therefore I will strive to find happiness and contentment in whatever life hands me every day.
What will you do?
Chase the elusive butterfly , or find happiness in what you have?