Happiness is the second of a series of five topics for Momalom’s Five for Ten.
Have you ever looked up quotes on happiness by great thinkers? If not, I recommend you don’t. It won’t make you happy. It might even depress you. I know. I ventured that way and found myself sinking in quicksand instead of riding high on a hot-air balloon.
You don’t believe me?
Take Gandhi, one of the best examples of realized human potential often looked to for wisdom, guidance and inspiration. But this quote? Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Not so much. It sounds like a lofty version of Keep looking honey ’cause you ain’t never gonna find it. Why? Because to have thought, speech and action coincide is ideal. And the ideal is a rarity in the land of the real. It disregards instincts, emotions and imperfections — three human attributes that contribute much to our growth and show no signs of getting rubbed out through our evolutionary process. So, no. For me, this definition is a touch too rigid; a bit of a lose-lose path in a win-some-lose-some world.
How about Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman whose name no woman would dare sully. Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. Really? That’s what happiness is? It sounds a lot like waste material, doesn’t it? I never thought I’d be disappointed by Eleanor but, these words don’t make my heart pitter patter to say the least. If I had to choose, I’d pick Gandhi’s definition.
Need more examples?
Albert Camus: You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. (Never mind.)
Aristotle: Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence. (Oh, yeah? Let’s ask Camus.)
Albert Schweitzer: Happiness? That’s nothing more than health and a poor memory. (Could this saintly man have used more hugs?)
It seems these thought leaders could not crack the happiness mystery.
If you’re struggling with your own happiness, take heart. You’re in good company.
WHAT AND WHERE IS HAPPINESS?
Perhaps it would help to define what happiness is not. We make lists of things we think it could possibly be. One by one, we check them off as we acquire, achieve, or be these things. And when we’re done buying, doing, or being these things, we find out what it’s not.
We fall into traps, after all, they’re strewn just about everywhere. Disguised and dressed up. Looking like the perfect impostor.
We hear about these traps from stories we’re told. But, though we like to listen, stories, no matter how exciting, aren’t always enough. We have to know for ourselves. We have to get in and out of these traps ourselves. One by one.
Sometimes, we don’t know we’ve fallen in one. Sometimes, we wake up in one.
Some of us stumble upon it.
Some of us lose it.
Some of us miss it amid all the commotion.
Some of us are forever mystified by its myth.
Still, all of us seek it. Whatever and wherever it is, we root for each other to find it. After all, if/when one of us finds it, we glean hope that we too can have it.
What is happiness? Words don’t seem adequate. Often what I come up with is trite, awkward, contrived or someone else’s definition.
I could go the Dalai Lama way and differentiate between pleasure and happiness. But, I’m not kidding anyone. I’m no Dalai Lama and I want both pleasure and happiness.
I could mosey on down the “it’s a choice” route, after all, it sounds promising to believe that we have influence on our happiness and is a much happier thought than “it’s destiny”. But I don’t know if it comes down to one choice, or key choices, or a lifetime of consistent choices that brings happiness.
I could fall into the oversimplified route of “either you’re happy or you ain’t”. I’m tempted because black and white is less challenging than gray. But, alas, black and white is so boring my ADD has already kicked in — in full color. I reject the notion that happiness is boring.
I could define it as a playground; a place where hours of play and laughter go by. But little kids, and some parents mind you, are often found crying and getting hurt at playgrounds. It doesn’t seem to be an appropriate metaphor.
When it comes to happiness, my hunch tells me it’s better to be it than to deconstruct it. I’d much rather revel and sink into it than define it. Yeah. I prefer to spend quality time with it when it shows up at my door. Who knows? Maybe then it’ll visit more often and possibly even stay a while.
Down shots with it? Sure! Sounds much better than pinging it daily. Or following it around, desperate to make eye contact. Make it my mission and forget all else? Nah. Stalk it in a killer dress and high heels? Never.
I’d rather welcome its sojourn as equally as I do its friends. You know, all those other good things that make us feel nice. Like satisfaction, contentment, peace, sanity, comfort, etc.
And so, with a smile and wishes of happiness and light, from me to you, I close with yet another clumsy, silly and possibly nonsensical little poem:
Would rather play in the sun
than work a ton.
It’s way more fun
to hit a ball and run
than get stuff done, or undone.
Would rather press start
and create art
with a full heart
than play a faux part
finger on a pie chart.
That ain’t so smart.
Would rather have nothing
than big ol’ bling
to make me cling
to a meaningless thing.
Left wing, center, right wing
of thee, still, we sing.
Would rather make my child giggle,
make jello jiggle,
wriggle in and outta skinny tunnel,
and sing Hey Diddle Diddle.
Better than to remote-fiddle,
or much worse, swindle.
Does defining happiness stump you? Do you feel that there is too much emphasis on selling and buying happiness? Is happiness the end-all be-all of our earthly existence? Or are other things equally important such as: satisfaction, contentment, peace, sanity, rest and relaxation, creativity, etc?
Image by lawPrieR