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We spend so much of our lives searching for fulfillment. Thinking there is something we should be doing, something we’re missing, that if we only did X or had Y, that all the pieces would come together, everything would finally make sense, and we would at last feel calm, happy, and relaxed.

We would feel fulfilled.

But this is the nature of being human: We are programmed to always be searching for more.

We set a mythological bar for ourselves—we must be successful, we must be loved, we must be “happy,” we must be thin, we must be rich… the list is infinite.

Often, or maybe always—we never stop to define what “successful” means for us, what “happy” means for us, what “healthy” means for us. What loving and being loved means. We simply have this vague unease that we don’t quite have enough, that we always, somehow, fall short despite our best efforts.

At what point do we stop striving for more and decide that what we have is enough?

Happiness is not a myth, exactly. What is a myth, however, is believing that happiness is something that can be achieved. Something you can strive for, something you can capture and hold onto. Something you can acquire if and when you finally have “enough” of whatever is eluding you.

Happiness, instead, is something that is all around you and already with you.

It cannot be captured or contained. But it can be seen, felt, and appreciated.

It requires that we zoom out from the myopic, laser-focus on ourselves and our own lives. That we think instead of the heavens spreading out above us, a sheet of glowing stars across a dark, clear sky. Standing alone in the dark, we can appreciate the darkness around us, the vast vault of light twinkling above us, the impossibility of distance, space, and time.

In this moment, we recognize our absolute smallness. And the absolute vastness of the universe around us.

In this smallness and vastness, we finally recognize that we are but a fraction of the infinite whole. That whatever our problems, our individual hurts and pains and sufferings, they are all part of the pattern of the universe. And they don’t matter nearly as much to the universe as they do to us. The universe will continue on, regardless of us or what happens to us. Regardless of what we think we have or don’t have. Regardless of what we want for ourselves.

If we can relax, settle into and truly appreciate that unlimited vastness, we will understand that there is so much to be had that we could never possibly have it all. And in understanding that we can’t have it all, we can finally let go of that myth of never having quite enough, never being able to grab happiness and hold it in the palm of our hand.

With this wider view of the smallness of ourselves against the vastness of the universe, we finally understand that we are exactly where we are meant to be. And with that understanding comes a sense of calm, contentment, and wellbeing—dare I say, happiness.

It was right there all along.

Heather Shaff

Heather Shaff is a cyclist, writer, and mom based in Boston. She's fascinated by all things growth, motivation, and learning... and will drop everything for chocolate ice cream.

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