“Happiness comes in small doses folks. It’s a cigarette butt, or a chocolate chip cookie or a five second orgasm. You come, you smoke the butt, you eat the cookie, you go to sleep, wake up and go back to fucking work the next morning, THAT’S IT! End of fucking list!”- Denis Leary
One of the bits Denis Leary did that has always stuck with me is summarized in the quote above. It is one of the most realistic descriptions of what it takes to find happiness. Happiness is not a destination, it is a level of emotional stability that is difficult to achieve, harder to maintain, and often is fleeting. However, if we seek small slices of it, the descent from it is not as bad and it is easier to find.
Everyone has a different definition of happiness. Some have lofty expectations as to what happiness means while others scramble for any little tidbit of it they can grab, never looking past their next morsel. Neither lends much to stable mental health, though. Those seeking ultimate happiness usually end up disappointed and bitter. Those collecting little pieces never truly feel fulfilled and cannot imagine that they will ever get the next piece.
It is wise to find things that make you happy that are attainable and fulfilling without exhausting your mental and physical resources. It is fine to think that if you bought that new car or lost that extra weight you’d be happier, but if your bank account can’t handle the hit or you risk your health to drop the weight, the end sum is usually negative. You’ll just be more depressed and unhappy even if you succeeded in your goal because you’ve now put yourself in a situation that creates tension and stress.
If one is content with little pieces of happiness, it can be tempting to get greedy. A little shot of happiness can make one crave the next one, and soon they will be using all their resources and energy to seek out that little piece. This is as damaging as pursuing a lofty goal, as all your life is focused on is finding that next little dose of happy.
So how does one avoid the pitfalls of seeking happiness? First, manage expectations. Would that high goal really make you happy? Do you have enough small things in your life that grant you happiness to sustain you? Second, be content without indulging. Don’t overdo happiness. Like anything else in this world, it is good in moderation. Overindulgence leads to a loss of perspective and the fall from such heights can be brutal. Third, don’t let the pursuit of happiness be the focus of your life. It is better to find things that make you happy and focus on them, not the feeling you will reap from it.
Happiness can be found in the smallest acts or the simplest of things. Enjoy those moments while you’re in the moment and appreciate that you got to experience it. Then, like all good things, let it go. Never obsess, never truly pursue. Just find the things that make you happy and do them, bask in the good feelings, and then let them pass.