19 Comments

HAPPINESS


San Juan

Happiness is the gold ring on the Merry-Go-Round,the swell of the ocean under your board, the sound of crickets on a warm summer evening. The word itself is an altruistic phenomenon meaning different things to different people and requiring different paths to get there.

As Eric Hoffer once said, “When you are young you can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy”. As you age you have too much of what you don’t need, and some people still aren’t happy.

I once heard two woman friends tell me they weren’t happy, which sent a shiver of sadness tumbling to my toes. I found myself wondering why they weren’t happy. Some older people who are widowed, perhaps without family nearby, feel alone. They forget that there is a huge reservoir of life and happiness within themselves.

There are people who rely on others to make them happy, which will ultimately fail because it’s not their business to be the happiness purveyors. Happiness is one of those things we have to do for ourselves; no one else can do it for us.

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It’s far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity. (Carl Jung)

COMPENSATION
If it were not for the shadows
We would never have the sun;
If we never had the night-fall
Then day had not begun.
If we never knew a heartache
Then our soul would never sing;
If we never had a winter
We would never see the spring.
If we never knew the tempest
We would never love the calm;
If we never knew the wounding
We would never feel the balm.
If we never knew some sorrow
Then our hearts could not be gay.
There may never be tomorrow
But we always have today.

Webster devotes half a page to simply defining the word happy, but where is it? Is it memory, or a place, or both? We all have a memory of a place wonderfully rich and satisfying. A sight or a place where you caught your breath in amazement, or comfortably settled in and stored it away in your memory bank to draw on when your funds run short.

Remember the old song telling us to “Make someone Happy, Make just one someone happy, and you will be happy too.”

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19 comments on “HAPPINESS

  1. I don’t think much about happiness any more. Instead, it’s contentment that I experience, and that I cherish. I’m certainly far more content than I used to be. Happiness comes and goes, but there have been times when I’ve experienced contentment even in the middle of great unhappiness.

    I’m not much of a scripture-quoter, but I do think now and then of Paul’s words in his letter to the Philippians: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” And there it is, in a nutshell: we can’t make others happy — or even ourselves — but we can learn to be content.

    it’s really true, isn’t it? The most unhappy people often are the ones who expect someone else to provide them with happiness: whether experiences, a relationship, a way of life. At almost-seventy, I’m certain it doesn’t work that way!

    By the way — I did see that you picked up Sarton’s book. I think you’ll really enjoy it. It’s one I’ve re-read, and dipped into many times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think people confuse happiness with contentment. My feeling is that they are one and the same. Happiness may be a more active verb, while contentment is a calm sea. If I am content, I’m happy without the big smile. Your scripture quote is right on.
      I remembered one also, but it would fit the current election:
      How happy your people must be! How happy your officials who stand before you and continually hear your wisdom! A little biblical sarcasm!

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  2. A good friends made these remarks so many years ago; ‘happiness is vastly overrated.’ It still makes many of us laugh. We used to compare each others fits of feeling down or the opposite, of being content. Those feelings often just seems to have a life of their own, irrespective of circumstance. It would just be. Now, of course whole armies of experts tell us, that happiness is life’s aim, forgetting that past and future don’t have much bearing on how one feels right now.
    It is funny how one can feel good even when circumstance indicate that we ought to be spinning out into a hole again. To me, it is proof that our feelings are of own efforts and making. To be satisfied how things are is what gives us ‘happiness’.
    This all sounds a bit teaching. I have to clarify that since we lost two of our adult children over the last three years, both of us carry a bereavement that will go on. We still find many moments of ‘happy.’

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    • I have always said smiling is over-rated. It makes a lot of people feel good to get one though and encourages them to give one back. I have a friend who calls those things giving out “peanuts” which if practiced regularly, would make the whole world happier.
      You are absolutely right that we need to be in control of our own feelings in times of stress and unhappiness. Having also lost a child, I have great empathy for you and Helvi. Keep sending us wonderful words Gerard. I think of them as peanuts.

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  3. I don’t know of a perfect way to define happiness, but I do know it cannot be found outside of ourselves. Nothing we do can find us happiness, nothing we have can find us happiness. Rather, it comes about by digging deeply, and making a choice to be happy. That takes a bit of experience, understanding, and effort!

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    • Beautifully put! The choice belongs to each of us. My dearest friend went to live in a retirement home a few years ago. She was deaf and had mobility issues, and when we went to look over her new living arrangement, she was joyful, and showed us everything she was about to partake of. She had a stroke a short time later and was not able to do any of the things she had hoped to do, but she never lost her enthusiasm for simply living. She made that choice to be happy.

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  4. Lovely post. I learned a lot about how to be happy from my mother. She had her garden and her needlework. These pursuits were under her own control and not dependent on anyone else. She was generous with the products of her labour and, though she’s been gone for ten years now, her gifts remain, bringing her close and putting a smile on many people’s lips.

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  5. You make me happy, aunt Katie! Thank you for that lovely reminder. Love, Cindy

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  6. True happiness endures in the face of adversity.

    That much is clear from some of the foregoing.

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  7. We were in a pretty bad car cruncher a few days ago. It was the type that could have resulted in serious injury, or even death. But we all came out of it with nothing more that a scratch. I am happy to be here… and even happier that Peggy is as well. –Curt

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  8. This post is indicative of the warrior you are, still writing about life and happiness while facing more surgery. Like Joan, you are a rock and role model for us all.

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  9. There is such wisdom in this post, especially in this sentence: “Happiness is one of those things we have to do for ourselves; no one else can do it for us.” I would add that money and possessions — though some of each is essential — don’t do it for us either. The poem is nice. Did you write it?

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