Two years ago I wrote my last entry saying that total happiness should be impossible (http://www.43things.com/people/progress/leftsider/97346). A lot of time has passed since then (and a lot of cheers! Thank you!). Yesterday was my 29th birthday, and, lying in bed with a fever the entire day prior, I thought a lot about death and what I would feel if I closed my eyes and never got to see my 29th year.
Surprisingly, I felt I would be happy. I have found love, companionship; I am appreciated and respected by those around me; I have found what I consider my calling and I have made positive progress in reaching it. I am on the right path, in the right direction. I am happy.
Of course I didn’t want to die. As I went through a pretty plain and uneventful day, however, everything seemed to be right. Not perfect, nor even ideal, but just the way it was.
In the time that I’ve been missing from writing entries I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking, Studying world religions and investigating philosophies. One thing that came from all this is that I think happiness actually has two meanings—mostly because we’ve used the word incorrectly.
In one sense, it means the opposite of sadness. We want to be happy so that we are not blue. On the other hand happiness means peacefulness, balance and pleasant mindfulness of our being. This is the definition I think most people here are searching for.
But they are not synonymous. In fact, the first definition is inextricably tied to the things we dislike; we cannot be truly happy but that we experience sadness, and sadness itself is the thing that makes us want happiness. You cannot remove one without removing both.
Here is where many may object; “Are you saying that we shouldn’t strive for happiness?” they’d say. In a sense, yes. Stop striving for things that will bring you a temporary “up” and force you to burn your energies in the impossible task of maintaining that high. This is akin to the addiction cycle of substance abusers; you are abusing happiness and it will only hurt you in the long run.
Instead, recognize and accept that you live as an imperfect person in an imperfect situation of an imperfect world. This guarantees your awareness that there will be things that are of varying degrees of good and bad in your life. Rather than being influenced by them, exert influence: accept their existence and your committment to improving all things. Learn to be at peace when things are gloomy and no one can take your joy when things are pleasant. The secret is that your true happiness comes from within, from the conquering of every moment by the will within your heart.
Every moment in my 29th birthday worked. It wasn’t a perfect day, but that shouldn’t matter and didn’t. For a day, I realized peace and satisfaction in every moment. I am happy with myself, and I wish nothing but the same for all of you. Best of efforts.