Which of these photos, in your opinion, best represents happiness? The daisies or the rainbows?
Okay, I admit it—this is a trick question (and a silly one, at that). According to Mark Manson in his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, neither is a good representation of happiness. Why not?
“Because happiness requires struggle. It grows from problems. Joy doesn’t just sprout out of the ground like daisies and rainbows. Real, serious, lifelong fulfillment and meaning have to be earned . . .”
However, maybe daisies and rainbows can be representations of happiness, if we think of them like this:
Imagine working very hard to clear a patch of land, till it, add compost, plant seeds, water them diligently, and prevent the seedlings from being damaged by winds or floods or weeds or animals, to finally produce beautiful flowers—only to have to work to keep them looking lovely as long as possible, upon which they die and you must begin again.
Or envision undertaking a long, hard voyage through the wilderness, staving off thirst and hunger and insects and unsociable animals, and experiencing inclement weather, including a long and hard rainstorm, to finally be able to witness an idyllic scene—upon which the double rainbow vanishes almost immediately, and you are still in the middle of the harsh natural world and must continue to work to survive.
But don’t worry—there’s good news. There’s no need to resign yourself to a life of grunt work and misery. According to Manson, the key is to choose a struggle that you enjoy. If you enjoy gardening, working hard to grow beautiful flowers is your happiness. If you enjoy hiking or boating through wilderness areas, striving to witness idyllic rainbow scenes is your happiness. To experience joy, ironically, we must choose our struggle.