Happiness is not a fish you can catch


I’ll start today’s article with a quote from Dalai Lama.

Everybody wants happy life. Sometimes the people – in order to achieve happy life, successful life, entirely relying on external means – money, power or some other things; I think that’s a mistake.
Ultimately, the source of joyfulness is very much within ourself. And once our mind more calm, more joyful, then our activities can also be more effective because it can be more realistic.


Are you able to differentiate between happiness and joy? Would you say that they’re the same thing? Or are they completely different?


Look around in our society today, you’ll find that being successful in life appears to be defined by the amount of expensive materialistic things that one possesses. I believe this is greatly contributed by the media. We are told by the different means of media about things that we cannot live without; we are told that we must dedicate our lives to pursuit buying these “life essential” items. Items like the expensive car, that pair of $500 dress shoes, those high-end designer clothes, that $50,000 engagement ring, the multi-million dollar mansion, the big screen ultra high definition TV, the latest smartphone, and so on and so on. The list never ends.


How often do you hear people say that they need to upgrade personal belongings because something new just come out? How often do people throw away perfectly working items because they’re “too old” or out of style? Thanks to media, many people are associating expensive materialistic things as being rich and successful. Getting all these materialistic things become our only ambition in life. Owning expensive items become the only way to impress friends, families, or completely random strangers. As unfortunate as it sounds, for many people, owning expensive things have also become the only way to satisfy themselves.

Is this really how life should be?

Obviously not, if you ask me. I truly believe the key lies in being able to tell the difference between happiness and joy.


What do happiness and joy mean to me?

For me, these two words have completely different meanings. Happiness is externally driven, it’s an instantaneous moment. If you win the lottery, you feel happy; if you get promoted at work, you feel happy; if you purchased your dream home, you feel happy. To put it simply, happiness is a momentary feeling that will disappear after a certain set of time frame, leaving you unsatisfied and wanting more. Joy, on the other hand, is internally driven and does not have a pre-defined expiry date. You can’t achieve joy unless you are content and at peace with yourself. Joy lasts much longer than happiness. You can be joyful when you wake up each morning, knowing that you’re still alive. You can be joyful knowing that you’re loved by someone. You can be joyful by laying on the grass doing absolutely nothing on a beautiful sunny afternoon.


The unfortunate thing is, that too many people mistake happiness for joy. They achieve a moment of happiness by buying something materialistic. Since this happiness only lasts a certain amount of time, it triggers them to buy more things. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having expensive stuff. However, because it is human nature to always wanting more, you will never get enough and will therefore never be satisfied. The never-ending pursuit of more stuff is where things go wrong. If you look at it from a different angle, this is no different than taking drugs. You get addicted and you cannot give up. You are better off by not having anything in the first place. In order to get away from this continuous vicious cycle, you need to ask yourself what is really important to you and what makes you content with yourself. What is more important to you? Getting that new designer’s clothes or going out on a relaxing picnic with your loved ones?


So how does this relate to me?

Once I was able to differentiate the two words, I began to understand what makes me content and what will satisfy me. I began to focus my energy and time on these things, instead of chasing that endless shadow of trying to possess the next shiny object. For example, spending time playing with Baby T, taking a walk with Mrs. T, or having a cup of coffee and some pastries with Mrs. T in a local cafe. Even simple things like creating a dividend portfolio for Baby T to create a legacy, or spending time building our dividend portfolio bring joy to my life (OK maybe I’m wierd this way, ha!). Although that expensive Ferrari convertible may look nice and may be wonderful to have, it will never bring any joy to my world. So why even bother spending energy or time on thinking about this expensive item?


To sum it up, knowing what makes me content and peaceful has made my life simpler. I can focus my energy and time on things that are important to me, like enjoying the small things in life. Just like everything in our lives, saying is easier than doing. So I practice every day in my daily life to be a better person and remind myself of the secrets to a joyful and frugal life.

PS. In case you’re wondering, the title of this post comes from an album by Our Lady Peace.

Written by Tawcan
Hi I’m Bob from Vancouver Canada, I am working toward joyful life and financial independence through frugal living, dividend investing, passive income generation, life balance, and self-improvement. This blog is my way to chronicle my journey and share my stories and thoughts along the way. Stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter. Or sign up via Newsletter