Everyone wants to be happy, but happiness can be elusive. Sometimes what you think will make you happy doesn’t and sometimes you find yourself in inexplicable good moods when it seems like nothing has changed. Lately I have been considering the conditions that contribute to finding fulfilling happiness.
During this trip I have found myself happy for the longest time I have ever been. I had a vision of what I wanted my life to look like and as I have followed it has lead me to places that have far exceeded my high expectations. In my time spent in the town I have previously described I felt a deep sense of fulfilling happiness. My adventure lead me to this town where I found myself in a tight knit community, developed meaningful relationships, and pursued my passion for kayaking every day. I experienced sense of bliss in that space and time which I will never forget. After my experience with observing death the blissful moment had faded and the road was calling my name again. It is the nature of happiness to come in cycles of lows and highs.
In my search for the underlying truths of happiness I was lead to some of the teachings of Aristotle that resonated with my experiences. Man’s happiness will lie in the full functioning of his human qualities. The achievement of human experiences will develop these qualities and lead to fulfilling happiness. These human experiences that I seek are not complex ones. It is the simple things in life that matter most. The thrill of venturing into the unknown, gazing at the stars pondering their vastness, the tender warmth of a lovers embrace, and persevering through a dangerous situation are the types of experience which I allude to. The happiness to be gained from such distractions as social media or material wealth will never be as fulfilling.
Happiness is most everyone’s end goal in life. “For we choose happiness for itself, and never for a view of anything further; whereas we choose honor, pleasure, intellect… because we believe that though them we shall be made happy” (Aristotle). Happiness is fostered by the middle ground of human qualities. “Between cowardice and rashness is courage; between sloth and greed is ambition, between humility and pride is modesty” (Will Durant). Happiness is found in moderation rather than indulgence. Happiness is experienced as pleasure of the mind rather than pleasure of the body. Let us not confuse the noble pursuit of happiness with the potentially unhealthy pursuit of pleasure. Friendship is perhaps the most important external aid to happiness. It has been said that happiness is only real when it is shared.Through this trip I have discovered my path to happiness. I now know what is important to me and what isn’t. With this knowledge I will go forwards to shape my life in the way that I see fit. I will continue to chase adventure, build meaningful relationships, challenge myself physically, develop myself mentally, and give back to those who I meet along the way. These are the things that make me happy.