Happiness is elusive

One of the greatest lyricists of all time is the late John Lennon, who was the songwriter for the runaway hit band, the Beatles. Not only was John brilliant, talented and creative, but he was also down-to-earth and had a wry wit about him. Once when he was five years old, his mother told him that of the traits and characteristics a person could possess, perhaps the most cherished but least understood one, is happiness. She told him that this elusive quality – yearned by many, but possessed by few – is the key to the purpose of life. This sentence made such a deep impact on young John’s mind that when he went to school that day and his teacher subsequently asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he responded spontaneously that “he wanted to be happy”. The teacher told him that he had not understood the assignment, for which the young John short back defiantly, “You have not understood life!”

Indeed, from the above episode, it is obvious that happiness is a keenly sought-after attribute, but ultimately only a few are blessed with it. One writer calls it “the inner experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude”.

It is strange that those who go all out pursuing it relentlessly will find it slipping away, almost like a dog running in circles trying to catch its own tail or like a person searching in vain for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. One famous writer put it quite succinctly when he said, “Seeking happiness is like chasing a butterfly. Once you try to capture it, it eludes and escapes. But then, when you least expect it and are not futilely chasing it, it comes and sits  quitely on your shoulder.”

Ironically, happiness is an off-shoot or a side-effect of living life to the fullest. Many a human being prefers happiness over materialistic considerations and even over beauty, wealth and talent. To show that even the rich and famous crave happiness, I will relate the following conversation I heard on the Star World TV show, `Rendezvous with Simi Garewal’. Simi was interviewing well-known Pakistani cricket star-turned-politician, Imran Khan, to whom she asked whether he had plans to remarry. Simi was shocked when he replied in the affirmative. When Simi chided him saying that in his case, second marriage may not be necessary, Imran Khan shot back stoically, “I would like one steady partner and companion rather than have a string of affairs. It is ultimately `Happiness vs Pleasure.’”

At the end of the day, it is unquestionable and absolute that everyone wants happiness, for it makes for a very worthwhile and meaningful life. Like the butterfly story, one can discern that happiness is undoubtedly elusive and therefore it would be prudent for one to be kind, compassionate and caring to others irrespective of the outcome or returns, for then, one will probably find the butterfly of happiness sitting quietly, patiently and graciously on one’s nubile shoulder!

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