The Pursuit of Happiness

by Joseph Merlin Bowers

I am currently trying to position myself in this community to where I can most effectively advocate for people with severe mental illnesses. On the surface this sounds all altruistic and noble, but it could legitimately be argued that I am doing this for selfish reasons. First of all is my bitterness for having been cursed with insanity. As it stands now if there is a God and I meet Him one day, He’s got a lot of splaining to do. If it turns out that I help people because of what I went through, that makes things better and easier to live with. I’d be OK with everything. Also I am pursuing happiness.

Many people think the successful pursuit of happiness means winning, proving personal superiority and/or amassing huge collections of things and of riches. When they do these things and discover that they are not happy, often they assume that they haven’t won enough, sufficiently proven superiority or amassed a large enough fortune. They double down and wonder how much is enough. How much does it take to win happiness?

In my opinion these people are pursuing happiness from the wrong direction with faulty assumptions.

Some time ago one of my sons gave me his theory on happiness. He said that happiness comes from expressing one’s creativity and from service. I like this not just because it seems pure and nice, but because I think it’s true. It assumes that self respect is necessary for happiness.

Self expression can sometimes go awry and cause consternation, but there is joy and value in the creative process. When I wrote my book about my experiences with my serious mental illness, I wasn’t able to get many people to read it. This was massively disappointing, but through this act of creation I became a better, healthier more together (happier) person.

When I tie flies and get a couple good ones out of many attempts there is a feeling of accomplishment and happiness. This is augmented when I catch fish on flies I have tied myself.

It’s hard to argue with service as a source of self respect and happiness. Who doesn’t feel good when he thinks he has done something good and helped somebody.

So if you want to be happy for the rest of your life  don’t necessarily get an ugly woman to be your wife. Devote your life to creativity and service.

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