The pursuit of what makes our lives worthwhile and what we all have in common.
The Pursuit of...
Humans are wired for emotion, but to varying degrees. Starting in childhood, we begin reaching for the very ideals that will shape our lives and define who we are. Somewhere along the line, we start to build toward a career, plan for the future, and find success. And no matter how extroverted or introverted, creative or logical, childish or mature a person is, we all crave happiness, security, and acceptance. While faith often goes hand-in-hand to achieve this, these truths are pursued and attained regardless of personal beliefs, simply because of the state of human nature that links everyone together.
What is Happiness?
Being discontent is the fastest way for changes to occur. If you are unhappy about a situation, you make a change. If not done at the onset of irritation, you open yourself up to anxiety, anger, and depression. But let's be realistic - not all things need to be or can be changed. And other emotions, such as jealousy and greed can get cloud the mind, making us think that if we only had what someone else has, or if we only had what we see on television, then our lives would be complete. The point is, everyone dreams of what would make us happy, and few are content with what they have. Those who are content know that happiness cannot be bought, stolen, or earned - it is the gift of contentment.
That Which Makes Us Secure
We see commercials for security systems for the home and car, we buy locks, fences, and gadgets to make our "stuff" as private as we can, and we are paranoid about things like identity theft and cyber-stalking. We worry because we want to feel at peace, knowing that what is ours is not going anywhere without our permission. Some people even go a step further and feel that if they can control people the way they desire, then their relationships are secure, too. Children learn a lot about what makes them feel secure at a very young age - how to be dependent on blankies, pacifiers, or other things to calm them down and feel in control. Even superstitions can get in the way of feeling secure, where bad omens or good luck charms determine whether luck will be on our side in a given situation. Ultimately, we can't do anything about our earthly goods and people in our lives - there is always the chance that something will happen to them - either by natural disasters, unfortunate accidents, deaths, and acts of crime. As with happiness, security can be fleeting, and is highly subjective. How can we combat this? By not letting the things we have control us, and by learning to live off of less. No matter our budgets, there is at least one area where we live in excess. That much is evident by the vast amounts of garbage we dispose of weekly, and the many items that end up in garage sales and second-hand stores. Uncluttering physical space or the mind is highly freeing. Ask yourself: what makes me secure, and why? Then talk it over with someone you trust, and make changes accordingly.
In the Spotlight
There is nothing wrong with dreaming big. We would all love to be recognized for our achievements. No one would turn down a token of appreciation sent their way. Unfortunately, there are some people who go to great lengths to be noticed, giving in to feelings of narcissm and selfishness. They think if they could just do or be more, then they will get noticed by others, and feel better about themselves for having received such attention. Do you often find yourself under-appreciated, stifled, or mis-represented? Perhaps it's because of a job, family members, or physical or mental struggles. But it is often at our lowest that we seek support (if it wasn't already achieved when life was treating us well). If our outlook is bad, then without the acceptance of at least one other person in our lives, we will self-destruct one way or another. So rather than first depending on another person, acceptance must start within, and only then will we allow the words and actions of others to validate our characters. That is why it is paramount to explore our strengths, push our limitations, and never grow tired of lending a helping hand to those in need, while encouraging others around us to do the same, regardless of age. Then we will see that acceptance is for the taking, as we believe in ourselves. There is no greater acceptance than that.