Audrey Hepburn said, “happy girls are the prettiest.” If you see a picture of someone and you think she looks truly beautiful, chances are, you are seeing her happiness shine through. This is a beautiful thing. It is not about hair, makeup, clothing, or anything external. The best pictures are the ones in which the soul shines through the person and the camera lens.

The reality though is that feeling we all call “happiness” is fleeting. It comes and goes. It is not constant for anyone. This is not bad news. It’s off and on finicky nature is what makes us appreciate it’s presence and what makes us want to snap a photo to savor the moment after it has passed. This is life.

When we share these moments on social media, it is not to misconstrue these moments as our constant state of being; rather it is our relational, social nature as humans that makes us want to share our happiness with those we love and pictures are a means to do that.

This fleeting feeling we call “happiness” though, I would argue is not. At least it is not the most accurate term. I think it would more accurately be called joy or pleasure. True happiness is actually very different and much more enduring if we choose to pursue it. True happiness is a sense of purpose. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

That difference is what makes people who retire go back to work so quickly. We all dream about retirement; having freedom, time, rest, joy, pleasure and so on, but so many people tire quickly of that life once attained because they miss the sense of purpose their job had given them. Don’t get me wrong. You don’t need a job, or the job you had to have a purpose. Not at all. The idea though is if you want lasting “happiness” and not just fleeting pleasure, purpose is the key. You can open the door anytime. Everything you want is waiting for you on the other side. As Darius Foroux said, “happiness is merely a byproduct of usefulness.”

I love sharing moments of “joy” with loved ones via social media. However, I truly hope that when I am gone from this world, if you look at my social media history or any evidence of my life, that you will see more evidence of my “true happiness”; that is, my having had purpose and usefulness.

Wishing you purpose AND joy,

Nikola Rosa