What does it mean to be “happy”?

Do we “deserve” to be happy?

Can we “truly” ever be happy?

Can I type a sentence without using “quotes”?

These are questions I think about a lot lately. The assumption is that only I can make myself happy. That the key to true happiness is somehow a mystical journey of self-exploration that requires deep soul searching along with wisdom of the ages.

Of course, I think this is crap.

Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” I take this to mean that looking for happiness is futile. Happiness finds you, not the other way around.

Benjamin Disraeli said, “Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.”

From this, I gather that we aren’t owed happiness. There isn’t a government happiness program (although the medical marijuana program sounds pretty close). So if we’re not owed it and we can’t chase it, how do we get it? This is a paradox. If you chase it you won’t find it, but if you spend your life waiting for it it’ll never come to you.

Finally, Buddha says, “You may search all your life for a person more deserving of happiness than you, but you will never find one.” So while we’re not owed it, according to Buddha, we deserve it.

So, happiness is something that we aren’t owed but we deserve, something we can’t chase but must be found. Much like the Sage in the Tao, the happy man neither chases happiness nor waits for it, he just is happy. This flies in the face of the anxious and the worrisome. Maybe that’s why we are so unhappy so often. Because, the one thing we think we’re missing, the thing that could conceivably cure us, is rendered unattainable by the affliction.

Its a “simple” chicken or egg problem. The problem is figuring out if happiness has feathers or a shell…