Can You Be Happy?
That hotbed of interesting quotes, Whiskey River has the following
statement from Ana•s Nin:
Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments.
I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous.
I want to be a writer who reminds others that these moments exist;
I want to prove that there is infinite space, infinite meaning, infinite dimension.
But I am not always in what I call a state of grace. I have days of
illuminations and fevers. I have days when the music in my head stops.
Then I mend socks, prune trees, can fruits, polish furniture. But while
I am doing this I feel I am not living.
The other day, I was listening to a podcast from the Philosopher's Zone,
and Alan Saunders mentioned the following experience:
I was sitting in a cafˇ; a few weeks ago, out in the sun, having a meal,
reading a magazine. And I looked out across the street, and I suddenly felt
happy. I had this sudden moment of blessing, as it were, I suddenly felt
happy. And I remarked upon this to a friend of mine and she said, 'Well that
was good.' And I said, 'Well no, I'm not sure how good it was; I couldn't
live my life like that, I couldn't live my life in this constant state of
beatitude. Why would I get up in the morning?' So you know, we do get to
these sudden moments of illumination, but that's not what it's about really,
If you were to ask me, "Are you happy?" I would say yes. For I am. However,
I'm not in a state of euphoria either, and I'm not sure the drive for ecstasy
is very healthy. My quest for bliss is one of peace, calm, and enjoyment from
my daily life.
I really would like to dive into this thing called happiness, but everything
I think, say or write borders on metaphoric banality-- platitudinous dribble. Ugh.
Shameful that the height of philosophical discussion on the
pursuit of happiness is nothing more than what would fit on a Hallmark card.
Morality, re-branded as ethics, is addressed in numerous tomes and treatises
by many a dead white guy. But the discussion of happiness is often relegated
to the self-help section at Borders.
But this being Thanksgiving Day in the US, my family asked me what I was
thankful for. I said that I must be the luckiest man in the world, for not
only do I live a wonderful life surrounded by loving people with healthy
children, but that that I notice how fortunate I am, and I appreciate it.
I am truly happy, and this is a rare commodity in this country.
Perhaps John Demartini††Author of Count Your Blessings: The Healing Power of Gratitude and Love and guest on Alan Saunder's Philosopher's Zone
was right when he makes a shift from happiness to fulfillment, since
happiness ends up being the front-man for unbalanced fantasies and unrealistic
expectations. My life is not carefree and without challenges and frustrations,
but I don't expect that. I guess I just don't expect or desire anything so
impractical and fanciful.
The Tibetan Buddhist, Lama Yeshe once said:
When Lord Buddha spoke about suffering, he wasn't referring simply to
superficial problems like illness and injury, but to the fact that the
dissatisfied nature of the mind itself is suffering. No matter how much of
something you get, it never satisfies your desire for better or more.
This unceasing desire is suffering; its nature is emotional frustration.
Perhaps that why so many people are unhappy. They are looking for the next
big moment, the next gadget, the next love. Perhaps getting rid of desire
in order to be content, and being content brings fulfillment.
But who really is happy with last week's broken-down cell phone?
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