The pursuit of happiness

“Happiness can exist only in acceptance.”

– George Orwell

I was going through some of my ancient digital archives the other day and I came across a number of notes that I had written and emailed to myself in 2012. The notes that I found were written a whole 6 years ago, yet their core message is as valid today as it was back then, and I am very unashamed to admit that each time Ben senior reads what was going through the mind of Ben junior, he is able to refocus his attention and get his life back in order. A life that always seems to be on the verge of spiralling completely out of control.

This particular note that I wrote was about happiness and it was written at the beginning of the final year of my Computer Science degree at The University of Cape Town. I had a lot going on in my mind at the time: I was about to graduate, I was trying to establish what to do with my life after University and if my calculations are correct, I was also on the verge of getting into a relationship with one particularly amazing and extremely influential individual.

Reading this note now at yet another pivotal moment in my life brings me a huge sense of relief because it makes me realize that the challenges will never end. It reminds me that we are all in the pursuit of happiness and in this never-ending search we tend to get confused by a) what happiness really is and b) what actually makes us happy.

Once again I would like to thank you, Ben of the past, for always having my back and never failing to give me great advice. When I grow up, I want to be just like you.

From: Benjamin Mmari
Sent: 06 March 2012 08:57 AM
To: Benjamin Mmari
Subject: Happiness

I think it’s fair to say that in life we are all searching for happiness, but a lot of the time we fall short and are left with something that is merely just an illusion. As humans, we constantly look for joy derived from material, impermanent and illusionary objects, people, events and situations. This is not the major problem though ( we can’t help it, we do live in a material world), the problem is that we think it will last forever, this is where the real fault lies.

We also think that things external from us will bring us ‘true’ happiness, and that’s not entirely true either. We might experience a feeling of joy and excitement from being subjected to them, but all they do is stimulate the happiness capabilities that we have laying dormant within us, and this is the hardest concept for people to grasp. I look around me and I see everyone always trying to get somewhere, to obtain something, to be someone, never happy or content but always searching, needing, craving and wanting. During moments of self-reflection, I sometimes catch myself continuously striving to move forward, budgeting for the future, planning for the years ahead, writing up a list of places I want to go to and items that I want to buy. And then I sit back and I ask myself, “what the hell am I doing?”, “where am I going?”, “what am I looking for?”

There is nothing wrong with having clearly defined goals and objectives, your life has to have some sort of direction, yes, but the problem comes when we think that after succeeding or achieving these things we will be internally and eternally fulfilled. Unfortunately, this is not – and will never be – true. The more we search for happiness and fulfilment that is external from ourselves the more we express the sadness and lack that we are harbouring in our mind and soul. The more we convey how much we want and need, the greater we widen the void that exists deep within us.

It is only recently that I realized that it all lies within the journey and not solely within the results because while the results only ever last for so long, the real journey ultimately lasts forever. Yet, us being the greedy pleasure seekers that we are, desperately want to start a new race as soon as we reach the end of the current one. Why? Because we erroneously think that it is the act of finishing the race that will ultimately fulfil us, and we end up living our whole lives simply as a means to an end.

Chilling with a group of friends recently made me realize that I am happy because at that moment in time I had no worries, no woes, no issues, no anxieties, no needs, no wants, no problems, no desires. I was just enjoying where I was and what I was doing. No fantasies of where I wanted to be or plans of where I wanted to go, I was just utterly and completely lost in the now, in the journey, and that is where we find true happiness, right here, right now.

Happy Kids
Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash
“I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know
Everything that’s shine ain’t always gonna be gold (hey)
I’ll be fine once I get it, get it in, I’ll be good”

Useful links:

  1. If you are like me and you desperately need to declutter your mind, get a grip on your life and re-establish your goals and objectives, then do yourself a favour and listen to All We Have is Now by Walter Mmari, from his musically profound EP, The Poetry of Silence



4 thoughts on “The pursuit of happiness

  1. This is a great article. It’s true that happiness only lasts for a moment then life happens and we keep moving but gratitude is where the key to it all lies.


    1. Thanks a lot Prav. And yeah, gratitude is definitely the best attitude, as clichè as this saying may sound, it’s certainly very true.


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