Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Seeking Happiness

This morning snow fell for a brief time. Snow makes me happy, I love the stuff. When the snow was gone, the happy feeling I had seeing it fall was gone too. I had a delightful breakfast, pretty dishes, lamp light that make everything seem so much more romantic, good tea that Melissa had sent me, it tasted wonderful, plus it was a gift of love from my eldest, making it more wonderful. I had a good book next to me, and reading it made me feel happy since its about finding joy ! Yet, when the table was gone, that "in the moment" type happiness was gone. I watched the birds at the feeders for many minutes, this too made me happy to see them feed and grace my day with their color and song. When I moved from the window, that moment of happiness was gone. The fire in the woodstove felt so good on this wintry morning, it made me happy to sit on the floor in front of it and feel the warmth fill my body. When I went into another room that delightful feeling of warmth was gone and so was my happy feeling that I had just moments before when sitting by the fire.
There are two kinds of happiness perhaps, the momentary happiness we get from things that bring us a delightful feeling, that once out of our sight or thoughts, the happy feeling is gone too. Its a fleeting sort of happiness that runs along the surface.
Then there is the possibility of achieving a much greater type of happiness that runs so deep inside of us that nothing can remove it from us. It is connected to some kind of inner peace.
I read a story about a Tibetan monk who was taken prisoner by the Chinese and tortured and harmed almost daily. He remained calm and yes, happy. It irritated the guards that beat him that he remained kind, and nearly glowed with an inner happiness no matter what they did to him. After years of captivity he was released and was asked about his experience. He said at times he feared he would loose his inner happiness, and of course everyone was thinking and saying, "how could you have any happiness in such a place ?" and he said he was afraid he would loose his happiness by feeling so much sorrow for those that hurt him. That is having the kind of happiness we are all looking for. A happiness that is not affected by circumstances. Happiness so rich and deep that it carries us through all hardships and the experiences of daily living.
There is lots of talk on blogland right now about simple living and what exactly it is. The definition is simple, it is living in such a way that keeps your life uncomplicated as much as possible and filled with that inner happiness that cannot be removed by another's actions. There is no one recipe for this. We all find our own way in this. I know myself pretty well and have a real disdain for what money can do to people, so I don't want that to happen to me. I have seen it consume more than one person in my life. And certainly there is plenty written in scriptures about how hard it is for the rich person to enter heaven. So why would I ever want something that could risk so much ?
Also, I need to avoid things that make me soft physically. I also love the things of the old days. So we live what we feel works for us.
We are all different, are called to different paths, different walks. For some it may be simply having enough to eat, for others it may be having a job where no one makes you stressed. I would hope no one really thinks a bigger house or car will bring them deep and abiding happiness. I have learned in my 52 years that the things we have provide the temporary kind of happiness, out of sight out of mind type of thing. If our house was destroyed while we were away, we are first grateful that our life was spared and those of our loved ones, for it is in love we find happiness. The things lost could be replaced. But never a loved one.
Just recently they did a survey, asking young children what they would like to be different about their parents work. Those conducting the study felt certain that time would be the central key. That the children would wish for more time with their parents, but no, it was that they wished their parents would not be so stressed from work. The stress of work was robbing them of the simple things in life.
So many people stay in stressful jobs because the money is good, they give up so much for the money. Many could scale down, live with less and find a simple life far more rewarding, but egos and wants would have to surrender. This is what I write about. When things become more important than happiness.
My personal way of living simple is best for me at this time in life. But it is not the wood heat, the spinning, the soap making, the candle dipping, the animals, growing my own food or kerosene lamps that makes me happy inside. Those are all fleeting moments of happiness and if they are gone from my life I would still have that inner happiness. That comes from years of training my mind to think a certain way about things that come along and believe me its a journey that is not complete. I can still get ticked off at folks, and still feel angry at the actions of people.
With more compassion I hope to see things in a light that is full of love, kindness and understanding so that my "self" does not take over and allow my inner happiness to be lost, even if for just a moment.
No matter where you live, how much you live on in the monetary sense, you can achieve profound happiness and that is part of, no it is the main foundation of a simple life, as long as you understand that happiness comes from living a life intent on making others happy.

"Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others' actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others' activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.

Nor is it so remarkable that our greatest joy should come when we are motivated by concern for others. But that is not all. We find that not only do altruistic actions bring about happiness but they also lessen our experience of suffering. Here I am not suggesting that the individual whose actions are motivated by the wish to bring others' happiness necessarily meets with less misfortune than the one who does not. Sickness, old age, mishaps of one sort or another are the same for us all. But the sufferings which undermine our internal peace -- anxiety, doubt, disappointment -- these things are definitely less. In our concern for others, we worry less about ourselves. When we worry less about ourselves an experience of our own suffering is less intense.
What does this tell us? Firstly, because our every action has a universal dimension, a potential impact on others' happiness, ethics are necessary as a means to ensure that we do not harm others. Secondly, it tells us that genuine happiness consists in those spiritual qualities of love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness and so on. For it is these which provide both for our happiness and others' happiness."

[Ethics for a New Millennium, by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama]


Alexandra Brook said...

>and have a real disdain for what money can do to people, so I don't want that to happen to me. I have seen it consume more than one person in my life. And certainly there is plenty written in scriptures about how hard it is for the rich person to enter heaven. So why would I ever want something that could risk so much ?<

Such a shame to be so fearful about such a powerful energy (which is all money is) that can be used for such good in the world. I don't believe God wants us to be impoversihed, but to enjoy the fruits of the world, which includes wonderful prosperity, including financial wealth.

Patty said...

Alexandra, we will likely never agree on much, as we see life through such different lights.
I admire the mother Teresa's of life and not the Trumps.
I know there are churches that preach all about wealth and prosperity, simply, I would never attend one.

Sandra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
earthwomyn06 said...

Thank you so much for this...

This helps to remind me what is imporant :)

Much To Catch Up....

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