Saturday, January 21, 2006

Saturday, Jan. 21: Happiness as a Choice

Happiness is one of the signs I am living my life right. Another way of saying that is that under most circumstances, if I am unhappy it is because I am temporarily insane.

Yesterday I had some of these moments of temporary insanity. I wanted a friend to do something that just then this friend didn’t want to do. To want someone to conform to my wishes, is one thing, but to hold onto that wish, and get bummed out with not getting my way, that’s temporary insanity. It made me unhappy.

No. I made me unhappy. I made me unhappy by being a confused friend. I made me unhappy by not being in the present and appreciating the friend just as they were right then.

The up side to this sort of realization, is that if I can make myself unhappy, then I can make myself happy. I can do that lots of ways, the most straightforward of which is to let go of the thoughts and attachments that are making me temporarily insane.

There are limits, of course, to the conditions for happiness. Some people in the world, under conditions of violence, say, or starvation, need not point the finger at themselves, though they surely have a right to help, both their own and that of others, in correcting these conditions.

But those of us with enough food and shelter can get a lot of mileage out of seeing happiness as a choice that we are either making or rejecting. Or inadvertently rejecting by assuming that other people or circumstances are the cause of our unhappiness. Being present to the moment, of course, is immensely useful here, as is giving ourselves permission to learn and be curious as a way of life. If we have something to learn, we can easily be happy, because we are doing what human beings love to do. If we are curious, we can always rise above our misery by being curious about how we are causing this for ourselves, usually with ideas that are temporarily insane.

Then we can begin to leave behind the ruse of the “pursuit of happiness” and take happiness when it really comes along: right now. And if I’m not happy now, what can I do to make this so?


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