Wednesday, December 20, 2006

perhaps a bit too honest

“I think our difficulty in accessing happiness lies in large part right there: We are usually preoccupied with being useful – doing something with an outcome in mind, rather than being open to where we are at this moment . . . happiness, not to mention joy, can help us forget ourselves altogether, at least for a time. It can take us into the wide world beyond our own self-preoccupations. It can join us to the trees, to other people, to cows and to stones and to the living pulse of humankind itself. It can join us to the china mug of tea in our own right hand. Strange, then, that it should seem so fleeting and difficult to grasp.
Happiness is our natural state. It is the feeling tone of who we are when we are most at home in ourselves. It means there is nothing to add to what we already have, or to who we already are.
Let us . . . remember . . . that some great music is playing, even now, in the midst of it all, and the happiness inside us is part of the melody.” (Roger Housden, "Taking a Chance on Joy," Oprah December 2006, 277-278)

Yes, its from the Oprah magazine. Big surprise.

Happiness has always been a struggle for me. Not in attaining it persay, but in my struggle with how to approach it. Is it something to be desired? To be pursued? To be cherished? Does happiness provide any sort of meaning? Is it in essence merely a reprieve from suckier parts or moments of life?

Basically, is it something that I should want, or merely something I should be grateful for if it happens?

I’m not quite sure that I agree with the author when he states that “Happiness is our natural state.” I think that he assumes that if we take those little moments, those moments looking at trees or simply enjoying a hot cup of tea under a blanket on a cold day without anywhere else to be, that if we just stop focusing on all of the busyness and tyranny of life, then happiness will creep in and envelop us. I very much understand the value of appreciating life as it is right now, and I am very much a fan of pursuing simplicity in forms such as this. But life is a painful beast. And there are moments when I am very much enjoying my tea under a fuzzy polar bear blanket and I very much appreciate that moment, yet I am not at all happy. It is often those moments where everything is quiet, where I am content physically and am thankful for that very moment which my mind and heart laments passionately and painfully for the existence of mine and the world’s sinfulness, for the very existence of death, for the frustrating mysteriousness of God, for lost dreams, for broken relationships . . .

Should it frighten me that the “feeling tone of who (I am) when (I am) most at home in (myself)” is one, at least lately, of overwhelming sadness? Should I embrace that? Should I fight that? Should I struggle through that? Is this merely a phase . . . a temporary part of the journey . . . or a permanent fixation?

Is this me? Or not?

Am I too pessimistic? Too busy in my head? Am I getting life wrong? Am I getting myself wrong? Should I just learn to freaking relax?

Happiness would be great. But I don’t think that’s in store for me today. And honestly, sometimes I am ok with that. Sometimes.

Was Julian of Norwich happy? Hmm.


Tricia said...

I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about happiness, in a theoretical context, so I don't have any real answers. But I think happiness is an emotion rather than a state, and that emotion contributes to the state a person is in. I'm not so sure that there is a "natural state," and I definitely would not think that happiness is a natural state for humanity. Happiness definitely comes easier for some people than others, and well frankly that's just part of life. I think people like you and me can get really lost in our thoughts and caught up in the injustices of the world. By focusing on these there is definitely a tendency for a more negative or pessimisstic attitude that perhaps make the presence of happiness less apparent. .. I don't know. But I disagree with one point you made. I think contentment and happiness are the same thing.

I love you.

Kara said...

I would have to agree with your friend Tricia. I too think that happiness is an emotion and a feeling that a person finds themselves in. Rather joy is something that runs so much deeper. Joy is something that overwhelms your soul. You feel that joy, but the joy is constant because you have a hope and a belief in a God that fulfills that joy. Does that make sense? Happiness is short term whereas joy is more long term.
Love you!

Candace said...

I don't know about much about the whole happiness thing. But I often find that those times when I am alone with myself and am totally unhappy and sad can actually be very good and satisfying in a really strange way. I guess maybe the experience of allowing yourself to fully be who you are, of being totally honest feels so much better than artificial happiness. Sometimes I think what we term "happiness" is rather simply busyness, people just going through the motions of life. Not to say that happiness doesn't exist, but I truly think it has become this weird idolized concept within our society.