November 9, 2012 by The Editor
Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions. – The Dalai Lama
A country in a way is an aggregate, composed of citizens, soldiers, judges, lawmakers, institutions. If one component weakens to the extent that the rest are compromised, then what happens? Changing course is sometimes vital to the well-being of the whole. An aggregate is only useful when all of the elements hold together.
Part of walking consciously through life is knowing when to change course. If the fundamentals of our lives are not rooted in happy coexistence, then what are we doing and how do we extricate ourselves? To be truly happy signals something that goes beyond the joy of seeing a loved one succeed or spending time with a special person. It is being ok when those things don’t happen. It’s more than buying the latest edition of an I-pad, seeing the best movies, or eating at all the great restaurants. All of these are part of the aggregate upon which we live in so-called happiness, but I wonder what happens when these elements begin to weaken or don’t transpire as we would hope.
As an example, this is similar to listening to your body. If you go to the gym five times a week you expect to be fit and therefore happy. But if you walk away from every workout feeling nothing but pain, do you continue on? For how long? Or do you take a break? Do you find a way to be healthy that responds to your mind/body needs or do you try to fit yourself into a rigorous discipline with a purpose that is constantly undermined by your own actions?
Like a regular gym routine, discipline is in itself without a moral quality. Many people find happiness through a disciplined life that leads them down paths of community, faith, work, and self-realization. But if discipline leads only to isolation, distance, or pain, then what good is it? At that point the life you are living is not happy, it’s not even your life. It’s the life you think you should be living, but it’s a life lived for others.
Being happy is not contrary to or exclusive of responsibility and discipline. The challenge is being able to hold responsibility and discipline in a state of happiness. It is being able to live your disciplined life, however you choose, in a way that is fulfilling, not just correct and exacting. Happiness is not a state of constant bliss, achievable only through yoga or drugs or social acceptance. It is found in the balance of life and is the balance itself.
It comes down to you. If you can’t be happy where you are, and you can’t change your circumstances, perhaps you need to change your idea of happiness. If you can change your circumstances and don’t, then happiness will always be defined as something else – something to be attained rather than lived. That is a sad, but it’s not the only way to live. Learning happiness, for me, is at times like learning a new language. I know it’s not alien or predicated on someone else’s actions or based on how I appear to others. It is about how I relate to the world and act toward others that determines my own happiness.
There is an old saying, ‘happiness isn’t everything.’ I couldn’t disagree more. Happiness is everything.