Daniel Gilbert’s book Stumbling on Happiness was a deeply insightful read. It has changed the way I approach my life and what I choose to do everyday, and more importantly why it is that I choose to do it.
One of the more delicious take aways from his years of research and experience is that no human being can feel themselves forward. As we dream we imagine how great and how spectacular something is going to feel, but in most cases that feeling doesn’t come with the same intensity or it fades far too soon than originally imagined.
You can’t feel yourself forward. Nor can you imagine what disaster is going to feel like. Happiness has an unknown origin and birth. It is a byproduct of sort. An indirect discovering of hard work that is done today and the fruits of which are felt tomorrow.
Stop feeling forward. Stop imagining how great something will feel because you will be either disappointed or stop working towards it when those feelings fade away. Instead draw out a plan and don’t stop until you reach the end. You will never get to where you think you’ll be. You will always end up somewhere else, but it’s the tenacity with which you work and pursue your dreams that will eventually get you there.
In a sense happiness is a hopeless undertaking, since we can’t imagine or sense what happiness is going to feel like or even how long it is going to last, but that is not the case. There is a real and tangible way of making sure that we will reach our dreams and reach human happiness. In order to do that we have to let go of what we know, and stand on the shoulders of giants. We have to stop prescribing what should happen, and listen to those that have gone before us and implement what they tell us we need to do. It will never be the same. You can’t duplicate anything, but it is the closest thing that we will ever have that will help us get to where we want to go.
That is why the best cultures in the world have such a deep reverence for their elders. It is the elders that shape their life and happiness. It is the people who have been there, have suffered and overcome, have tried and failed that can help to pull you up, and in most cases, take you further than you would ever take yourself.
Don’t listen to the news or signs of destruction. Don’t listen to people why you can’t do something, not if they are unable to clearly articulate why something won’t work. Don’t bother, this will never work, is just a set of meaningless sentiments meant to create fear so that you remain the same and never reach your full potential.
Listen to people who have been or have done something. Listen to people who are something. People that do. People who fight fear. People who overcome failure. People of hope and faith in themselves and humanity. Those are the people you need to give your mind over to.
Those are the people that can see the future. You may not be able to feel your way forward, but you can certainly see the happiness of tomorrow with their eyes.
Don’t feel forward, just find a pair of bright eyes, and look a head.
Cover photo generously provided by photographer Samuel Zeller via unsplash.com