And we want what we want because we think we'll be happier when we have it in our hands.
It can be that ideal job. That wonderful car. That girl we've been trying to date. A fancy home in a certain neighborhood. Everyone's idea of what will bring them lasting happiness is different.
Then after a while the newness wears off, the wow factor disappears and we have to find something new to focus on. Only to repeat the cycle again.
The other day I was watching a DVD by a Harvard professor giving a lecture on happiness to a class of professors.
He asked them 'How many of you awoke this morning and said "Gee I'm so happy now that I have my degree?" And of course the response was a roomful of laughs. But he made a good point that talked about the process rather than the goal.
Happiness is often hard to put our finger on. But as we grow older we find out that it's not the things we acquire. It's not the money in the bank. Nor is it the title on the door.
Those who are truly happy have gratitude for all they have in their lives. But if you ask them what makes them the happiest they'll tell you it's the experience of achieving what they have with their lives – not the possessions they’ve accumulated.
Happiness is doing for others. Happiness is giving of our time. Happiness is working to improve the road for those who come behind us. We can find true happiness in making the world a better place.
That's the kind of legacy we want to leave our children and loved ones.