There’s No Sense Chasing the Wind

“Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.” -Russell H. Conwell

I once heard the story of a man who walked into a travel agency and requested information for a cruise. “Where to?” he was asked. “I’m not really sure,” was his reply. The agent handed him a map of the world and proceeded to unfold it front of him. The customer took a good look at the map examining it from a number of angles. Finally, with a look of frustration, he looked up at the agent and exclaimed, “Is this all you have to offer?”

I often fear too many of our lives resemble this interaction. We search for happiness, fulfillment, and meaning. But we have seen this world and culture from all different angles. We have seen what it has to offer. And have found it is not enough to fully satisfy. We have searched for happiness in a number of its greatest offerings and have found most of them lacking – or at the very least, fleeting.

  • We have searched for happiness in a bigger paycheck… only to discover we immediately desired an even bigger one.
  • We have searched for happiness in a job promotion or recognition… only to discover the accolades don’t last.
  • We have searched for happiness in bigger homes… only to discover they are accompanied by burdensome mortgage payments.
  • We have searched for happiness in fancier cars… only to discover they get scratches and dings just like the others.
  • We have searched for happiness in alcohol and drugs and sex… only to discover the pleasure has disappeared by morning.
  • We have searched for happiness in large savings accounts… only to discover money can’t solve all our problems.
  • We have searched for happiness in the pursuit of our dreams… only to discover there are just more dreams on the other side.

Eventually, like Solomon in the Bible, we discover we’ve only been chasing the wind. We realize lasting happiness can’t be found in any of these things. And we are left with this simple, nagging question in the back of our mind, “Is this all that the world has to offer?”

Surely, lasting happiness and fulfillment can be found somewhere. There is something deep inside telling us that pursuing happiness is not an entirely futile endeavor. We just need to start looking in the right places.

Lasting happiness is found in faith, love, and relationships. It can be discovered in character, integrity, and service towards others. And the sooner we discover true fulfillment is only found in giving our lives to another, the sooner we can stop chasing happiness in the wind.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    I’d like to add a few thoughts on where I find happiness.
    1) Choosing to be happy. We have more power over our emotions and feelings that many people realize. Simply deciding how we want to view the things in our life can make a big difference.
    2) Change. I think there is something in human nature that craves change. We fear change, yet at the same time, we desire it. It’s difficult to remain stationary in life, and also stay happy. I tend to be happiest when I’m working on improving aspects of my life, and with all these aspects, change is the key component.
    3) Love. Loving myself and loving others. Humans typically crave some form of interaction with others. When we can created these interactions in a loving manner, and with people we love, happiness is sure to abound.

  2. Liz says

    I have spent the last year of my life moving stuff, selling stuff, packing stuff, touching stuff, making decisions about stuff, giving stuff away.

    My father died in 2006, my mother in 2011. All the stuff of their lives – bedroom sets, living room and kitchen furniture, blankets, sheets, towels, radios, TVs, books, bookshelves, baskets, jewelery, clothing, knickknacks galore, tools, trashcans – all the stuff collected in their lifetimes – is now in other people’s homes.

    And I wonder – is this what it all comes down to? Stuff?

    Is this the legacy I want to leave my children? My stuff?

    No, I want to leave something more meaningful than furniture and jewelry. I hope to leave behind an example of a woman who, while far from perfect, learned to trust God in all the details of life. The memory of the mom who loved them far more than they’ll ever realize.

    • Cory says

      I have been there too…. and I asked the same questions… I do NOT want my children to go through this…. I sat down with my 15 year old son and showed him all about my life, yearbooks … team photos and a thousand other cool things I have done; I showed him all the accumulated possessions that we keep to remind us of our triumphs. Then he watched as I through all of the stuff into the trash…….

      All we can do is pass on our strength of character to our children by setting a good example.

  3. says

    I think that as a society, we are becoming less and less content with what we have, even though we probably have more and more. It seems ridiculous to me that people don’t stop, look at their families, their possessions and their health and realize how lucky they are and where they are.

    Hapiness is the ultimate destination. Unfortunately, too many people are taking the wrong path to arive.

  4. Cliff says

    So true. I remember discussing this very topic with my wife shortly before she died. Our conclusion? The only thing that matters in life is relationships: with God, and with others. Thirteen years later I am more convinced than ever. Thanks Josh.

    P.S.: Thanks Liz: your comments also struck a chord. :-)

  5. says

    Thanks for your post. There is truth in every word you wrote. My husband and I have recently decided to quit chasing that which we will never reach and focus on our marriage and our little family. So much more peace in that.

  6. Yesenia says

    Great post! Funny how when we try to fill ourselves we dont find true happiness, its in serving others like you mentioned that we will fill full. Loved this post!

  7. Victor says

    ” … Lasting happiness is found in faith, love, and relationships. It can be discovered in character, integrity, and service towards others. And the sooner we discover true fulfillment is only found in giving our lives to another, the sooner we can stop chasing happiness in the wind.” It is a great article, however, definitely need more people wanting this lasting happiness … Otherwise, it doesn’t seem to bring fulfillment if it’s not reciprocated. I have yet to find someone as myself with a true passion for connectivity based on the happiness found in love which doesn’t have a monetary ulterior motive.

  8. says

    I quit my job last Monday. I finally realized that I’m tired of missing out on my husband and children’s lives because I’m working 8-5, 5 days a week. I don’t want to be a part-time wife and mother any more just so that we can buy more stuff. I have been purging our house from a near-hoarding state for the past 2 months now. We have gotten rid of 24 garbage bags of clothes and other stuff in that time. We are still nowhere near finished, but I have so much more peace and joy now. I doubt that we will ever be true minimalists, but it was the awakening that I really needed to find a place where we are no longer slaves to our posessions.

    Now, we’re going to focus on raising our children and providing them a solid foundation for life. I don’t want them entering the adult world with the same “stuff-oriented” mindset that I did. Relationships are first–with God, then with family. That’s the legacy that I want to leave for my boys.

  9. The Tenrec says

    I feel you start well, but end badly.

    “We have searched for happiness in the pursuit of our dreams… only to discover there are just more dreams on the other side.”

    But that’s great – you have the satisfaction of having achieved something, and the joy of looking forward to something more. That’s what it’s all about.

    “Lasting happiness is found in faith, love, and relationships. It can be discovered in character, integrity, and service towards others. And the sooner we discover true fulfillment is only found in giving our lives to another, the sooner we can stop chasing happiness in the wind.”

    That sounds like a recipe for being an empty person. Yes, you must give yourself to others, but you must also nurture yourself, or you are nothing and you are giving others nothing.

  10. Samantha says

    I agree with most of what is mentioned above. However, in many posts I see you mention about how true fulfilment is realising that our service to others is one of the most important things we can do. While I don’t deny that helping others, socialising well & contributing to our chosen communities is important, this is not what gives me a feeling of fulfilment. Honestly, most times I feel as if that can be a chore that takes away from me exploring as much of life and our Earth that is possible. I don’t seek the material things in life, but honestly if I had the choice between hopping on a plane to go and sail through the Bahamas or climb Everest, or to donate my time helping out at P & C meetings I know which one would make my life more meaningful- regardless of how selfish I were being. I think sometimes I am just inherently selfish- but I am okay with that. It does not seem to be a popular position with others though! Please do not misunderstand, I am a nice genuine person who does help out when needed, I just do not feel joy from giving back to causes many see as worthwhile (except animal & environmental causes which do not help human beings ironically!). I wonder if this is normal, or if I really am as heartless as some may say I am.

  11. says

    Yes, it helps and feels great when you think and help others and not just yourself by loving, caring, spending time, contribute and be there for them and not expecting a return. I realize that collecting possessions/materials is a burden only satisfy you for few seconds or weeks and what do you gain by owning staff and just stored in the garage for many years collecting dust and getting rusty. Yet, staff gets old/obsolete then we get tempted to buy new things and updated ones, so there’s no sense to it. It doesn’t matter even if you have two jobs or high salary and have all material things in life. Is meaningless if you don’t have Love because God is Love and Love is God. I live simple by getting rid off all the garbage/toxic in life. I am grateful and thankful to God my house and a new car are fully paid, no bills like credit cards, only the monthly utilities. I have a great job and saving for my retirement. I live simple and focus in serving and have a good relationship with God and loving Him. I have good relationship with families, friends, relatives and neighbors, because our life is short and just temporary all I want is to serve God for his purpose. And the reason I have so much love, peace, joy, contentment because I love God and He blesses/provided me. So I don’t chase the wind.

  12. Keeefe says

    Happiness can only bein love, relationships, and faith? I would argue these are essentially meaningless as well. We are just meant to be unhappy.

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