Wanting = Happiness?


I wouldn’t describe myself as a happy person. I can’t remember a time in my life that I think of as a “happy” time.

There have been fun times.  Pleasurable times.  Lovely times.  Rarely happy times.

When I think of what I define as “happiness” — complete bliss, easy, meets and exceeds my expectations — nothing in my life has met that description.

I’d describe my life as forty years of frustrated desire.  Nothing blissful, easy, or fulfilling about frustrated desire.  I’ve experienced endless wanting.  Wanting more, wanting to be better, wanting things to change, for things to last, and for things to come without working so hard for it.

There’s always something missing and I’ve come up with a million things to want to fill up the space.

Here’s my happiness formula:  I will be happy when I get what I want.  I rarely get what I want therefore I am rarely happy.

But maybe happiness isn’t as elusive as I think it is.  Maybe my formula for happiness is all wrong.  Maybe I’ve been happy all along.  Maybe my frustrated desire is happiness.

Author Lionel Shriver* is the one who got me rethinking happiness after reading an article she wrote for The Guardian, “I Was Poor but I Was Happy”:

What if contentment isn’t a state, a place, an emotional location that so many of us will never feel we’ve reached? What if instead of this process of trying to get there, this trudging towards the distant light, this often frustrated battling from Point A to Point B, only to find that Point B is fraught with just as much travail and turmoil and sorrow as A, so we have to keep slogging towards Point C … What if that whole ceaseless cycle of exertion and exasperation, of failure, of try-try-and-try-again, is happiness?

…happiness isn’t getting something, but wanting something. It’s having appetite, being filled with desire.

Hmmm…have I been frustrated not because I haven’t gotten what I want but was wrong about what I wanted?  I was looking for happiness in all the wrong places.  Happiness is in the desire, not fulfilling one’s desire.

I love these kaleidoscopic shifts, these new ways of thinking that make you realize you have everything and are everything.

No positive affirmations to repeat.  No need to believe in The Law of Attraction.  Just see things clearly.

If you want and care deeply, you can be happy.  And I do want and care deeply.

It’s such a relief.


*I highly recommend Shriver’s book We Need To Talk About Kevin.  It’s a page turner like Gone Girl, but better.

13 thoughts on “Wanting = Happiness?

  1. Like the old saying goes (or something like it) happiness is in the journey, not the destination. I firmly believe that. Striving is where it’s at, girl! 🙂

    I saw the movie We Need to Talk about Kevin. Chilling.


  2. I grew up in the third world & giving was part of who are family was about. We gave in many ways, we fed the poor, we sheltered them & we helped them stand on there own feet & the poor felt greatfull & felt happy someone was looking out for them. We were care givers of our society & we felt humble.
    In the States caregivers feel privileged because our society has labels, attachment & tax deductions. This I feel is prescription for unhappiness. American young adults feel privilege & not humble. With all the false cheere from the time they were little to build up there self esteem is nothing but a myth. One out of four young adult is unhappy or depressed and have estranged there parents. Our young in the States are blamers and ungreatful.


    1. I think you’re right Nani – having too much is a recipe for unhappiness. You kind of made my point that desire is necessary for happiness and if you grow up having been given everything, there’s no room for desire.


  3. I’m Danish and Danes has been announced to be the most happy people in the world. At the same time lots of us are on antidepressants (myself included). But I think what makes us so happy isn’t the medication (antidepressants don’t male you happy in spite of the Danish nickname for them, “happy pills”). What makes us happy is feeling safe and content with what we’ve got.
    I think we’d all be a lot happier if we valued what we’ve achieved in stead of only focusing on the next goal.
    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be ambitious and want to go further. But we need to appreciate how far we’ve already gone as well.


      1. I’m not sure all Danes are that good at it either.
        But I guess that it also helps on our happiness knowing that if we get sick or fired from our jobs, we have a good safety net in the way our system is built. I know that this is a dangerous topic. I’ve found myself in a very heated discussion with an American man some years ago when I accedently mentioned our systen over here. I’m not going there again! But it is what the experts usuallt conclude when these happiness-lists published.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha ha, that last comment yesterday proves that I shouldn’t use the iPhone to comment, especially not before bedtime. And this is another comment written on the phone – now you’re warned. But I promise I’ll read it before I post it this time.
        This blog post and the comments have started a chain of thoughts in my mind, so I’d like to know if it’s okay if I either repost it along with my thoughts or just make a post on my blog as a comment to this?


    1. I agree with you. Antidepressant & Happy pills is bandage…. Yes, it will help you climb out of your blues.
      When I look back to the time we were kids, by the new western theory we would be called ” abused kids.” No, we saw our self greatly loved. My grandparents, uncles, aunties & parents could spank us if need. No, I don’t think I was ever spanked but we were taught to respect and trust our elders and teachers. We learnt how to love not only them but we learnt how to trust & respect ourself… This made us happy & content.
      We have unhappy young adults seeking help of therapists than any where in the entire world why? The gravy bowls of therapists & happy pill pushers are getting deeper based on greed & theories instead based on truth. Therapists are helping draft letter by kids to Estrange there own parents ! Who do you think will benefit? People in America are not content…. I should have migrated to Denmark & had happier family.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m sure you’re welcome in Denmark and our doctors would probably love to give you som happy pills.
        But if Denmark is too far away (this is not the best time of year to come, it’s getting horribly dark and damp), I’ve read that Canada’s scores on these list are pretty high as well.


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