What is happiness?

A Thoughts friend recently asked on a blog, “What is happiness to you?”  I was going to comment but it felt more respectful to write a blog.  

 

It is a question with which I long struggled.

 

Actually, in my opinion, this question can only be resolved privately and subjectively.  Each of us can offer how we have resolved it but the solution is too personal for a fit-all.  As soon as someone offers the answer, you will say, "Yes but you just don't know what I am living!"  You would be correct; no one can understand your reality but you.

 

Nevertheless, together we share an overall dimension where nothing is permanent and all states of being are temporary.  Happiness as a permanent state is an illusion.  From birth to death, pleasure and pain are locked in a dance spiraling through every second of our lives.

 

It is in the acceptance of this fluctuation where we find some peace.  Of course, acceptance poses a challenge whose depth is dependent on several factors.  

 

The primary factor would be into which lineage one emerges.  This primal consequence defines the depth of a being's exclusive struggle.  Imagine how challenging a refugee's resolution of happiness would be.  However, when I muse upon how Nelson Mandela processed his prison term, emerging peaceful and wise, I know answering the question of happiness requires the realization of conscious choices or steps.   

 

Through my own introspection, I propose the first step would be acceptance of one's unique reality.  I am guessing that he must have idled some time in raging at his miserable fortune, as we all do, when misfortune befalls us, but at some time, by evidence, he understood resentment was not benefiting him.  Emerging peaceful and wise after an imprisonement of twenty-seven years, is an example that we who battle with our lot would do well to consider.

 

Therefore, in this, no matter where we find ourselves this moment, it is accepting we are where we are - no more - no less - but that - we are here where we are.

 

 

Once feeling this acceptance we will find the next, the second step.  While we continue analyzing and comparing our fortune with others, the next, second step remains hidden.

 

Acceptance creates a relaxation that brings the positive into focus.  Spotting the negative is easy when its threat’s fear lays us flat.  But the truth of life is not in the sole view of the negative.  This myopic fear concentration does not help us solve our problems.  It is when we accept life and our luck without reservation that we notice - whatever our fortune, there is a positive side.  It is here that we then see the dance of both the negative and the positive and learn - nothing is permanent.  One moment we feel sad, then angry, then peaceful and suddenly happy as we munch on something delicious only to be sad again once we have finished eating our delicious.

 

No state of being is permanent.  Even our state of consciousness is destined to change into we know not what.  Permanence is an abstract belief that has no supporting attestation.  In contrast, impermanence proves its existence.  In fact, it is in the understanding of impermanence where you will finally find a treasure called contentment.

 

Accepting the dance of temporary waves of existence - of negative and positive - will reward you with the realization that life is a daily set of problems pressing for answers, harboring a rest in between.  Most define the resting as happiness.  This is a truth for each of us no matter what our circumstances.  

 

Rich and poor alike, all deal with a daily set of problems demanding solutions with pauses of happiness in between.  

 

Moreover, if you think the rich or anyone else has it easier, you have not really had a good think.  Everyone is struggling to keep up with this dance of impermanence.

 

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Comments (18)

  1. morningafter7

    I agree. On a personal note, I find that it is the impermanence that keeps life interesting and exciting. It’s what creates a challenge that some people thrive on.

    June 01, 2017
    1. greunie

      Well said.

      June 02, 2017
  2. dincali

    Thank you. i do feel the same way, but lately all the posts that i had read were ‘take charge of your thoughts, and you’ll be happy’ ‘find your happy place amidst chaos and you’ll be happy’…sheesh, ‘get rid of negative people, and you’ll be happy’ ‘go climb a fuckin mountain, and you’ll be happy’…it’s like i’m personally bombarded. I have to try to be positive, in fact all my life, in spite of my circumstances, i have been positive..at least i think i have….lol
    you put it in totally prespective

    June 01, 2017
    1. greunie

      June 02, 2017
      1. dincali

        June 03, 2017
  3. cannonfodder

    Very nice write Gre! I think most happiness is derived from the attention of others (human or animal). I guess the same can be said about misery.

    June 02, 2017
    1. greunie

      Yes – we certainly can be tossed about by the attention or lack of attention from others.

      June 02, 2017
  4. magnocrat

    Acceptance will depend on having sufficient for our basic needs, but that is in debate, for example do we need a shower? do we need to eat out? do we need a car , television set , mobile phone , internet access? All the accoutrements of western civilisation are we ready to bin them?

    June 02, 2017
    1. greunie

      When we have had those comforts, it is difficult to be without them and if we want them again, it is a problem to solve. But when we had them, there was the problem of maintenance. No matter – there are always problems to solve. If we have them and like them, why are we considering binning them?

      June 02, 2017
      1. greunie

        Acceptance of not having our basic needs met, saves our energy to move and solve the problem of meeting our basic needs. Losing time in non-acceptance only promotes more misery of going without our basic needs and delays solving the problem. Acceptance doesn’t mean things stay the same.

        June 02, 2017
  5. magnocrat

    I think you have taken this from St Paul who said he had learned to be content whatever state he was in. He was a very rare exception if we can believe the scripture but we can be sure he knew he was a rare exception. I think facts show the vast majority of us restless humans struggle to improve our circumstances as long as we are able.
    I decided to give up the struggle at age sixty one and for the last fourteen years I have changed my life style.

    June 02, 2017
    1. greunie

      I don’t know who St. Paul is. If that is someone in the Bible, I can only say, that is one book I avoid. Acceptance is not stagnant but a cessation of fighting what is and then building from there. I am confused by your responses not only towards my blog but also here in conversation. I hope you forgive my confusion but I just don’t understand your references.

      June 02, 2017
  6. magnocrat

    Sorry Greunie I have a silly notion All Americans are familiar with the Bible even if many don’t believe it, I will not refer to it again in your blog. I understand your references to contentment but I think the concept runs against human nature , in fact against the act of living. To live is to struggle , initially to survive, and then to improve our circumstances. This battle of life can become too much for a few and they consider suicide, others struggle for wealth which they think will bring freedom. Some look to the life beyond death which they believe will be free of sorrow and pain.

    June 03, 2017
  7. RRoe

    I’ve been on a journey with my new lady for about 5 to 6 years … it is the happiest I have ever been. It started with a quest to be honest and open with her (transparent) but with kindness. I studied mediatation and the ACT (the action and commitment theory – Happiness Trap) and then added on top my theory of stories. (We all selectively grab facts to support the story (dialog) in our heads.) Realizing we can construct many stories, all of which are only partially true, enables one to diffuse and separate one’s self from these stories .. and just be. (Throw in a read of Righteous Minds to become more humble for good measure.)

    As you mention, I realize all moods are temporary and fed by our internal stories. Stop feeding them and they die sooner. Most stories we tell have negative aspects … although not all … take away the negative stories, spend less time on the negative side of life allowing one to return to good side of our emotional swings sooner … and perhaps stay there longer.

    That’s a short version of the 6 year journey …now studying the Integral Philosophy … with a few years to go I hope. I have been thinking I should write this up as a book. But, the downside of my journey is that I feel very little ambition to be right or to convince anyone of anything. I can not write anything without realizing that it has one of my story embedded in the narrative. In a way, I realize that I also pass through stories ..

    As I write this I am feeling sad for reasons I don’t fully understand. Using my new skills, I have shut down the sad stories by realizing each is only partially true and biased by my mood .. yet the sadness remains. I will just be with it knowing its okay and it will pass soon enough. Perhaps a little more coffee.

    wiley.foxes@gmail.com

    June 08, 2017
    1. greunie

      Your comment is lovely. I admire your choice to learn and grow your own personal power. You described it perfectly. Exactly. We are interacting with temporariness. I love that you are practicing to be with it – knowing it’s okay and it will pass soon enough. I do like the lessons the sadness brings. They are liberating. Thank you for leaving me such beautiful words.

      June 09, 2017
      1. RRoe

        It is strange how much different life is than I was taught to believe it is. I hope eventually we can have more help growing up in understanding life a little better instead of the old models we have now which are largely based on good and evil, a god concerned with human affairs, and living for tomorrow (either heaven or when we get more stuff). I would love to sit around with you and just talk, maybe a few hugs here and there. Hugs.

        June 09, 2017
        1. greunie

          Quite recently, yesterday, I stumbled upon this philosopher. He addresses the insights I have had, however, his command of words, shares them more precisely. If you have the patience to listen – if not – you know best about where to place your attention. His basic message is that happiness is not pleasure but peace of mind in whether we are in pleasure or pain.
          -
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q60SWwOgUoI

          - Roger Castillo

          June 18, 2017
          1. RRoe

            I started listening … realized it was very long … I will come back nearer to bedtime.

            June 19, 2017