Poet Henry David Thoreau once noted, “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” I believe this insightful metaphor represents the idea that striving to seek out one’s idea of happiness will lead one to live a life of self inflicted frustration, that inhibits the organic nature of experiencing emotional content. By seeking happiness in all situations, one will miss out on the experience of all types of emotion that inevitably balance out in variety, to bring about natural phases of fulfillment from related events . Without any emotion to compare it to, “happiness” will seem shallow, as it cannot seem comparable to other emotions like sadness, anger, or disgust. It’s rather with the accumulated experience of differing emotions and responses that individual growth is promoted, as it establishes relative levels of happiness in every person. An example can be illustrated through the natural waves of endorphins that stimulate joy after one cries.
We must be wary to revel in happiness when we encounter it, but be mindful not to fabricate it in an attempt to seek control over one of life’s most mysterious yet rewarding attributes.