Happiness isn’t getting everything you want — happiness is a skill

6 min readFeb 25, 2019
Image by Artturi_Mantysaari on Pixabay

On the notion of happiness

I have been giving some consideration to the idea of happiness. There are some who might think that happiness is getting whatever you want. People pray for it, they work for it, they wish for it, and sometimes, they get everything they wanted on their Christmas list. But in the end, are they really all that happy to get everything they want?

I know some people who seem to have everything they want, but it is plain to me that they aren’t very happy. I also know that as soon as someone gets what they want, they want more (just ask any two-year old). Are we ever really satisfied?

I believe that true happiness is a skill. We acquire this skill from our parents and the accumulated experiences of life. True happiness derives not from getting everything we want. First, we’d have to be aware of everything that we could possibly want. Then we’d have to have a consciousness big enough to recognize that everything we wanted is there before us, ready for our present enjoyment. And even if we have it all, right there, before our very eyes, how long will it be before we tire of it? Once having it all becomes normal, as in, “I’m used to it”, can we really sustain happiness?

I also believe that happiness is not a river of constant joy, for if that becomes “normal”, then we might need more to achieve that state of joy. I think it’s highly probable that humans can build up a tolerance for happiness, just like pain. That tolerance is probably required for our survival.

True happiness requires effort, even if it lands in our lap. Every experience requires energy we derive from metabolism. Even if we’re just there for the ride, that requires energy. Just ask any two year old after spending two hours in a bouncy house full of inflatable slides and obstacle courses.

“I’m not tired, I just have poor judgment.”

True happiness, that contentment we sometimes see in older people, is a sign of resilience, of knowing that even when we don’t get everything we want, we find contentment in something we already have. That something we already have is usually derived from years of experience. This is discernment. It is the…