Last week our discussion group asked the question, “Why are most people in our culture unhappy?” This is a very complex issue because most people misunderstand the nature of happiness; most people think happiness is being in a good mood all the time. Happiness is not a mood... it is a state of being. A happy person can still feel a range of emotional responses. I am a happy person, I am angered by injustice, saddened by ignorance, proud of the young adults at Occupy sites, warmed by a baby’s laughter, frustrated by setbacks, joyous in shared moments etc…etc…etc … in all this I remain a happy person. My granny used to say, “If you are happier than not, more often than not. Then you have a good life”. When we let go of the expectation that we must be in a good mood all the time, it will be easier to allow ourselves to achieve a state of happiness. Again money is not the source of or an impediment to happiness. Everyone has problems / challenges; for the poor these revolve around material matters and for the wealthy problems stem from ambiguity in relationships and emotional matters.
What is this state of being called HAPPINESS and how does one get there? O.K. let me give this a try. Happiness has three component parts…Peace of mind… Joy of life & Love of self.
Peace of mind is achieved by living guilt free and regret free. To do this first we need to do our very best in every moment. Whether we place first, last or in between, if we gave it our best there is nothing to apologize for. And never do or say anything you cannot own with pride.
Joy of life (or joie de la vie as the French say) is achieved mostly through gratitude. Be grateful for even the smallest things, when your mind is focusing on what is right in your life you have less time to fret about what is wrong. To once again share a folksy life lesson from my granny, “You don’t gotta look too far to find somebody worse off then you.” So if the only gratitude you can muster is being glad you are not them…start there. Generosity also figures into this component, not just generosity with money, but be generous with your spirit. Treat everyone with kindness and respect and forgive easily.
Love of self… this is a rare thing because self love is often confused with ego or narcissism. In reality it is about accepting the good in yourself and forgiving your mistakes. Show yourself the same kindness and respect that I ask you to show your fellow man. As my Christian friend would say, “God doesn’t make mistakes…” You have a valuable purpose in this life. Find it, live it and be happy.
The above three are basic principles for happiness… the key to individual happiness is as unique as a key to a door, they may look the same but only one will actually successfully open the lock. I believe happiness is our natural state of being. If we are unhappy it is because something is blocking us, try to step outside yourself and look at your life objectively. How are you in conflict with these principles? If you can figure that out and make the necessary changes you will be able to find the key to your own personal happiness. If you are just starting your journey of self discovery (recovery) I recommend reading Don Miguel Ruiz’s books The Four Agreements and later released The Fifth Agreement. Have a joyous day my friends and we will talk again soon.