Thursday, July 20, 2017

What Is Happiness?

All beings want to be happy, yet so very few know how.  It is out of ignorance that any of us cause suffering, for ourselves or others".
-Sharon Salzberg

Back in the flower power days of the late sixties the rock band Iron Butterfly had a song called “Are You Happy”?  In the not too distant past Bobby McFerrin sang, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.  Even more recently Pharrell Williams sang the following lines in his mega hit song “Happy”.

It might seem crazy what I am about to say
Sunshine she's here, you can take a break
I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don't care, baby, by the way

(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do

So here’s the question…..

Are you happy?  If you’re not, is it because you worry all the time?  As a man with a wife I don’t need to worry.  My wife worries enough for ten people.  I have moments of contentment and even joy but I don’t always feel a sense of happiness.  Sometimes I am not sure I really know what happiness is.  Is happiness what I feel when nothing is going wrong?  I once read that happiness is not getting what you want but, rather, loving what you have.  I really do try to life a life of gratitude but I also spend a lot of time thinking about and even longing for what I don’t have.  I am not talking about the accumulation of more material things.  I have all the things I want.  What gives you a sense of happiness?  Many people respond, “My family”.  At the same time, they talk about how their family drives them crazy.  Other people say, “If I had more money, I would be happy”.  Certainly everyone needs enough money for the basic necessities of life.  However, I can tell you from personal experience having more money does not necessarily make you happier.  If other people and more things cannot make us happy, what does?  In your life, if you feel happy, what is it that makes you feel that way?   

1 comment:

Alexander's Horse said...

Hi Michael

I've been dipping into your blog for a little while and I really like it.

To your question about happiness, I came across Victor Frankl recently, psychiatrist and Auschwitz survivor, who founded logo therapy to help people find purpose and meaning in life. You probably know of him, but if not

He argued for humans to be happy they needed to find meaning in their life.

He also argued intriguingly that people who pursued happiness never found it. Whereas those who tried to lived good lives, tried to live virtuously for others, found happiness landed on them like a butterfly. Perhaps a little like zen ideas. I've lived in three Asian countries - Thailand, Indonesia and Korea.

Anyway I'm still exploring Frankl and very much a novice on these questions, and blogging, enough from me. I enjoy your blog was my main message.

Martin (Horsie)