When we reflect upon the tapestry of experiences and emotions that come to define the patterns of our lives, we continue to stumble our way toward that seemingly elusive state we refer to as happiness. What is happiness? How do we find it when it often seems to be just around the next meandering turn in our lives? How do we recognize it when we have it?
One of the best clues to true happiness may be found in a parable about the alley cat and the kitten told by psychologist Wayne Dyer Ph.D. I have paraphrased it in my own words below.
A wise old alley cat came upon a kitten who was doing what kittens do, with boundless energy was chasing its tail around, and around, and around. The alley cat asked the kitten; “Why are you chasing your tail?” The kitten replied: “I have discovered that happiness is in my tail, and I am trying to catch it.” The wise old cat thought for a second and replied to the kitten. “I too have found happiness to be in my tail, but I find that if I just go about my business it just follows right behind me.”
We look at the world around us and chase after the many things that we feel will bring us that seemingly elusive happiness that will last. We look to relationships with people, to new jobs, new homes, a car or even those life goals that only seem to make us happy for a while. We continue to look “out there” rather than “in there”. And we wonder why we seem to continue to find disappointment in place of the things that should bring happiness.
Maybe the alley cat was not only wiser than the kitten, but was actually smarter than many of us, in that happiness is about our focus. Maybe, happiness really never was an elusive mystery. Maybe, it was there with us all along.
By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist