Happiness is often confused with having fun. But ask yourself, isn’t the root of your desire for fun a wish to have your attention diverted from your problems, at least for a moment? To feel a constant need for amusement, entertainment, or recreation is self-defeating and even self-destructive.
If our happiness is dependent on what other people do, or on other people leaving us alone to do our own thing, they will always disappoint us and spoil our fun.
What is happiness? Isn’t it a feeling of contentment, a sense that things are going well? That’s what we really long for, isn’t it? It is not popularity, or a belief that everybody admires me, or envies me. “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain.”
To paraphrase Solomon: “He that loveth fun shall not be satisfied with fun; nor he that loveth excitement with extreme thrills.” Fun will always disappoint us, we can never get enough to satisfy us.
The only reasonable thing to do then is to abandon all attempts to make ourselves happy and do our utmost to make others happy. Even then, happiness does not depend on the thankfulness of the other person, though that is sometimes an added benefit. It is quite alright if our kindness goes unnoticed, unseen by others.
Neither does happiness lie in slapping a band aid on someone’s wound, going my way and congratulating myself on what a good fellow I am. Helping someone else starts with listening. That may become painful and messy, but they need someone to listen. Sometimes that is all we can do. Sometimes that is enough.
True happiness lies in knowing that we have done something to make life a little better, a little less painful, for someone else. It is the feeling that we have done what we could.