The Elusive Butterfly

Many people live on Someday Isle: (Someday I’ll) be happy when….I leave work…when I win lotto…when I get married…when I get divorced… when I lose weight…. when I get a new car ……….

The list becomes a moving target, and we forever postpone our happiness in the pursuit of achievements, materials and relationships. The more we chase happiness, the less likely we are to find it, like the elusive butterfly. Incidentally, a song called The Elusive Butterfly  became a top hit in the late 60’s by singer Bob Lynd. Meaningful words, lovely melody, it’s worth a listen.

Living on Someday Isle is virtually a guarantee for unhappiness. With this attitude, happiness is viewed as something that is triggered by external circumstances, something outside ourselves. When we acquire these outside conditions, hey presto we will become happy.

This is a huge delusion. It has been shown repeatedly that more “things” do not a happy person make. With one exception: if those “things” are essential to live. For example, if someone does not earn enough money to feed their family, then more money will definitely add extra happiness to their lives. This is understandable, as in this case money becomes a proxy for health and survival.

Many people chase success to the detriment of their health and happiness. Always be careful how much happiness you are prepared to pay for your money.

Once we have our basic needs met, more money at best will give us only a temporary lift in mood, which is not really happiness. We adjust to that level, then in time we fall back into the same patterns of thinking which lead to more unhappiness.

If money made people happy, then there would be no unhappy multi-millionaires or billionaires. This is obviously not the case. Unhappy people come from all strata of society, both rich and poor. Happy people also come from every strata of society, both rich and poor.

Many physically healthy people are unhappy, yet many unhealthy people are happy.

This was illustrated a couple of years ago when a young couple came to see me. In their late 20’s, he had a terminal disease and she was healthy. You would have thought it was the other way around. Having been given only 12 months to live, he was taking the tragic news with calm and equanimity, while she was totally distraught. They had married only recently, and the one with the more peaceful mind was him, despite facing his imminent death.

Happiness and unhappiness are borne in the mind. Abraham Lincoln stated “most people are as happy as they make their minds up to be”.

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