Life Isn’t a Treasure Hunt

HAPPINESS.—A butterfly, which when pursued, seems always just beyond your grasp, but if you sit down quietly may alight upon you.
– Unknown


You’ve got to find what makes you happy. Go out and find yourself. Find what you love. Find your path in life. Look for what you’re good at. We need to find more happiness. Search your soul.

All of these sayings, many of which I’m sure I’ve used, would have us believe that life is a game of hide and seek. Love, joy, happiness, success are all hidden somewhere out in the world and it’s our job to get out there and find them.

This idea is pounded into us by endless quotes, clichés like the ones above, schooling, life coaches, books, blogs, and other well-meaning individuals. From the time we enter school we are told the lie about the “real world”. Many of us are taught in school that when we enter the real world we will have every skill necessary to begin the treasure hunt for success, love and happiness. We are given a set of skills, told about others who have found some treasure and even shown a few different treasure maps. Then when we enter college, we even take classes specifically about how to find treasure maps and treasure. We’re told to emulate others who have discovered treasure. Again we are told about this elusive “real world” where all the treasure is hidden. We wait, learn, pay and listen until finally it’s time to go out and get some of our own treasure. Then we graduate, get a job and finally move into the “real world”.

And we struggle. There are no maps, no treasure hunts, no instruction manual. We’re not even sure if we’re in the “real world” yet.

So we wander through life, confused about where to look for happiness, love and success. We can’t seem to find it anywhere. We travel to Europe, Florida, Hawaii, the Grand Canyon. We quit our job, get divorced, buy a bunch of stuff, lease a fancy car. We go back to school, find a new job, buy a new house and take another vacation. But still we can’t find any maps or any treasure.

Turns out, there isn’t a “real world” and a “pre-real world”. There’s no treasure map and no treasure. There isn’t one secret to happiness, love or success. Life is not a game of hide and seek.

Life begins when we are born. At the moment that we exit the womb we are in the real world. We are now subject to every bit of pain and joy, sickness and health, happiness and misery, love and hate, life and death. Our parents, teachers, religious leaders, friends and family are in our lives to teach us, guide us and help us. But they’re guides who haven’t made it all the way up the mountain yet. They’re on the same journey as you. They can learn from you as much as you can learn from them. The opportunity to be happy, successful and to love is before us.

The key to finding happiness is this: you can’t find it so stop looking for it.

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
– Guillaume Apollinaire

You become happy, you can create happiness, you decide to be happy. It’s not something that we happen upon. How do we create happiness or decide to be joyful? Choose to be happy, content, OK with, grateful for, every moment that you live and breathe on this planet. Serve others. Practice good habits. Take care of your body. Smile. Love what you do and do what you love. And thousands of other things. There are countless ways to create happiness.

The keys to love and success are similar: you don’t just happen upon them by chance. You choose them. You create them. You can’t find them hiding in a cave or at the bottom of the ocean. You won’t happen upon them one day. These are things that are created one moment, one hour, one day at a time.

Love is a relationship built on mutual adoration, trust, friendship and more. Success should be a personal measure of our progress towards goals. Success is constantly doing the things that are most important to you and taking care of your prized possessions: family, health, spirituality, memories, etc.

So please stop searching for happiness, love and success. Life is a game of creation, decision-making, attitude-choosing, and becoming. It is not a treasure hunt or a game of hide and seek. We choose happiness, create success and build love.

Don’t look for the life you want; make the life you want.