Saturday, April 01, 2006

Saturday, April 1: Happiness is a good thing

Happiness and such.

Happiness is good. Why? It feels good, we feel good when we are happy. And this, too: we are usually more kind when we are happy. We are willing to give another person a hand, a smile, a break.

And there’s the old con: the pursuit of happiness, which, once you begin to taste real happiness seems silly. Happiness is either now, or it’s not. Of course, you can be happy thinking back over happy times in the day or the week, or thinking about someone you love or something you like, and that’s a hint:

The sunset doesn’t even have to be there to be useful for our happiness. We can remember the sunset and re-experience our happiness.

Of course, there’s the opposite, which is the great secret of misery and the way that therapists stay in business forever and ever, which is that we can mull over our past unhappiness and by going there in our mind re-induce our unhappiness.

I once had a girlfriend with whom I alternated loving and fighting. It was a drag. It was wonderful. You know the drift. She then left me and I decided to be unhappy about it. Forgetting the bad times, I concentrated on the good times, now supposedly forever gone. As if she was the cause of my happiness, silly me, instead of my story about how things were going when things were going well.

Anyway, she left, and I took the unhappy route even deeper, going over and going over in memory here days of leaving, her critical comments and so on.

And then, I had this understanding: in the present, in a nice place I just was me, standing in a garden or walking in the woods. If I wanted to drag in memories of her leaving then I was causing the unhappiness.

I also had some Byron Katie kinds of understandings: that her business was to leave me if she wanted to leave me, and my business was to decide what to do with that. I could love here for doing what she wanted. Or hate her for not doing what I wanted. One felt good. One felt bad.

To choose the way that feels good is the beginning of happiness now, not later in some vague “pursuit.”


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