I’m currently reading Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. That made me notice an article from Brain Pickings this week that highlighted Frankl’s other work, Yes to Life. In that piece he quoted a verse from Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore:
“I slept and dreamt
that life was joy.
I awoke and saw
that life was duty.
I worked — and behold,
duty was joy.”
Then Frankl commented, “So, life is somehow duty, a single, huge obligation. And there is certainly joy in life too, but it cannot be pursued, cannot be ‘willed into being’ as joy; rather, it must arise spontaneously, and in fact, it does arise spontaneously, just as an outcome may arise: Happiness should not, must not, and can never be a goal, but only an outcome; the outcome of the fulfillment of that which in Tagore’s poem is called duty… All human striving for happiness, in this sense, is doomed to failure as luck can only fall into one’s lap but can never be hunted down.”
Happiness can never be a goal, but only an outcome.
An outcome of our mindset. Whether we are focusing on the current moment, or the present and the past. It lands in our lap while we are busy living and therein lies the joy.
In these unprecedented times, it’s very human to fall into the habit of pursuing happiness. Of trying to find something that we are missing. But in the end, it’s in the rising and moving through our day. It’s in the peaceful way we close our hours accepting that we have done our best and hope to try again tomorrow. It’s in the little things that we will find everything. If we are willing to do our duty by fulfilling what we must in this moment.
And behold, duty was joy.