Sunday, December 4, 2016
Everybody wants to be happy. Pleasure creates life and most every life begins with a physical act of intimacy or pleasure. I believe that it's a human instinct to seek happiness. The concept of a commandment to be happy has a severe and punitive quality to it. Will bad things happen if I don't comply? In order to be happy you have to know what you're happy about. It's obvious that life is not perfect and every person on earth will experience something worthy of being upset about. You might think, well I didn't ask to be born into this world, I don't want to be here, and I don't want to be alive but you'll be lying to yourself. Every person is desperate to live. We want to live so badly that when life doesn't go our way or isn't perfect we get mad and sometimes unhinged, miserable, and angry!
There are some genetic and environmental components to happiness. Some people are born with better dispositions, better parents, better living conditions, or better opportunities. Most research on happiness has proven that happiness has little to do with external conditions. I believe in being thankful for what you do have before you can complain about what you don't have. The gift of life fundamentally obligates us to be happy. There's no excuse to being persistently unhappy because every person on earth has challenges and reasons to experience dissatisfaction in their lifetime.
Does inner happiness mean are you full of joy every second? Does being happy obligate you to experience constant pleasure - never suffering from pain, sadness, or challenges?
America is the only nation founded upon the pursuit of happiness as a basic right while it's citizens suffer from some of the highest rates of depression in the world! Statistically, some of the happiest populations on earth exist in some of the poorest, war-torn, and simple communities in the world. If you can't be thankful for what you do have than you can't be happy. If you feel entitled, that you deserve everything - you will never be satisfied. When you live without expectations and you acknowledge that you deserve nothing, and every breath, every new day is a gift, you create joy that is timeless and indestructible by events or tragedies.
People think happiness comes from getting what they want, enjoying it, and then getting more and more of what they want. For some, temporary happiness comes from shopping, traveling, and even chocolate while others may seek happiness through temporarily escaping their own lives, maybe with the high from the thrills of physical pleasure; sex, drugs, or alcohol. True happiness exists somewhere between the gluttonist's indulgent: live for the day and the religious abstinent: live for the world to come. For believers and nonbelievers alike, happiness should be a priority. The famous Hillel said, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I?". No matter where your personal code of conduct comes from, you need to have one and live up to it.
If you're invited to someone's house and you're a miserable and ungrateful guest, you probably won't be invited back but if you're a courteous and gracious guest, there's a good chance you'll be welcomed again and again. Bad things happen in our lives and in the world and you might forget every reason to be happy - like the fact that you're alive. Loved ones die, homes burn to the ground, and innocent people get cancer. You WILL experience grief, difficulties, and concerns but you are alive! Nobody asked to be born so if you think about it, we are all guests on this earth. If you can internalize that and the responsibilities that come with being a guest on this earth perhaps you can actualize the appreciation and joyfulness that comes with that reality. Life seems to reward people who take responsibility and live proactively.
The Beatles were wrong about, "Love is ALL you need," however love is crucial to happiness as are forgiveness and acceptance. True happiness requires us to love without restraint, pay attention to the people around us, and welcoming every new day with an open heart and gratitude. If you're thankful for what you DO have and you're happy to be alive then you can examine what's missing and work to make it better. If you're bitter, and angry about all of the things in life that you've been deprived of consequently you really shouldn't be complaining that your life is ruined, worthless, or meaningless. Every person has an eternal purpose. I know that my soul came to this world to fulfill a purpose and that gives my life meaning no matter what difficulties I face. People who are able to embrace and bond with their life's purpose have the ability to realize happiness in every situation. Their lives always have meaning which cannot be erased even in the darkest hours and most threatening situations.
If you're passionate about life and it's so important to you THEN you can look at what isn't up to standard, mourn it, and hopefully struggle and strive to make it better. You can only complain about death if you love life. If you don't love and appreciate life then why would you care about dying? What difference would it make to you? Never give up. To stumble and fall is human. Cherishing life means getting up and moving forward. Every life is full of obstacles and success may only be realized if you allow yourself to change your path and sometimes that means changing your destination. If you quit, your life is destined to end in failure. Love life and believe that it should be great! First obligate yourself to appreciate the goodness in your life and then you can be angry when things get messed up. Let your love and joy drive you to work on and repair what's wrong in your soul, at home, and in the world. Without the happiness you really shouldn't be whining. If you don't want life you can't ask for a better one.