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Jeppe van der Lee
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This article is written by Jeppe van der Lee, founder of BrightAhead. Mission: a stronger connection between people and nature globally.

The Happiness Paradox

By: Jeppe van der Lee

On: 11/05/2024

"Happiness is paradoxically enough a result of a constant exposure to struggle and strain"

I found myself in a book store looking for some inspiring literature. There was a book on ‘100 ways to happy’ which sounded quite to the point. Yet, I left the store with a cartoon that sounded just a bit more appealing ‘Donald's Double Trouble’. In the cartoon, Donald is faced with a lookalike version of himself, that leads to great chaos and confusion In Ducktown. Donald succeeds to proof his identity and is victorious after all. I got charmed on the simple duck-happiness and realized that there was more into his stories.

Curious Donald Duck

What we can learn from Donald Duck

The life of a Disney character is not all about roses and sunshine. Donald Duck has been chosen to be faced with the most challenging obstacles you can imagine. Aw, Phooey! On a daily basis, Donald is faced with detective work, talent shows, snowball fights, gorillas, earthquakes and Magica de Spell to name a few. No matter what, Donald will save the day! He struggles in each of his adventures; however, he is unmistakably one of the most successful Disney characters of all time. Despite the ups and downs in his adventures, Donald ends up as a ‘happy duck’ in most of his stories when he reunites with his nephews and has a laugh about his chaotic adventures. Donald’s ‘double trouble’ is almost symbolic for the paradox in happiness. How can Donald be a happy duck when he experiences the worst of the worst? What’s Donald’s secret?

A struggling journey

In one my previous posts called ‘The bright tunnel’ I wrote on the journey of life. However, I didn’t go further in dept on what exactly it is that you experience during the journey. Which catching experiences are we talking about? Following the common narrative, one would assume ‘happy experiences because those make you happy’. In other words, make sure that your life is a blast and be as happy as possible (no pressure). This is where Donald comes in! Donald’s life is the definition of struggle and chaos. Donald is faced with a great variety of crap happening all the time. Yet… He masters this crap. He is able to take it up as a challenge. And that challenge he takes up as an opportunity to ultimately end up as a ‘happy duck’ again. Crap after crap, Donald has become a more life experienced duck. He has a great self-reflection and finds humor in his own misadventures. He is loved by his nephews and is able to find happiness in the midst of chaos.

Sad Donald Duck

Embracing the chaos

I believe that happiness is like the journey of life itself, not a form of achievement or success. The enjoyment won’t magically happen by reading a book on ‘100 ways to happy’. Happiness is paradoxically enough, a result of a constant exposure to struggle and strain. Embracing the chaos and taking it up as an opportunity is a more realistic way to enjoy happiness. Happiness in this narrative, is not constructed, but a born implication of a tangible life path. Happiness like this won’t be a source of pressure to achieve and compare with others. ‘Chaos happiness’ is a more universal and practical representation of the world we live in and the path of life that is inevitably filled with struggles (opportunities!)

Chaos happiness
The little helper. Now grab the opportunity! Source:

“Happiness is the richest thing we will ever own” – Donald Duck