The enigma of happiness

I have always wondered what happiness is.  In many ways, it is one of the most important things in life.  It is something that requires great consideration and reflection.  It also requires great dedication and work.

Happiness, to me, seems to have levels.   On the surface it is a short transitory happiness, oftentimes a reaction to some event that makes you happy.  There is a tendency, I think, to mistake this as happiness.  This form of happiness doesn’t affect you that deeply.  It is only a superficial emotion.  But, as you go deeper, happiness hits deeper til it hits the very soul.  In that sense it becomes very ‘spiritual’.  It seems to me that really being happy is a ‘spiritual’ issue and requires a ’spiritual’ outlook.  And so, on one extreme, it’s a superficial emotion and on the other extreme is a deep ‘spiritual’ phenomena.

Happiness, as it gets deeper, seems to turn into other emotions or, at least, blends into them.  In that sense, ‘happiness’ is just the signpost to other things, a finger pointing the way, a guide so-to-speak.  Perhaps that’s its real significance?  Like a tree trunk it branches out.

It seems to me that the deeper levels of happiness tend to lead to emotions like worth, purpose, meaning, and value in life.  In other words, happiness has nothing to do with being satisfied but more in having a worth in life, some sort of purpose. 

It’s interesting that a person never achieves happiness, not completely.  One of the aspects of happiness is that a person must continually look for it.  In a sense, one of the secrets of happiness is cultivating an attitude of being continually ‘hungry for happiness’, always searching for it.  But this implies that you are in a state of need, which implies a sense of unhappiness.  What does this mean?  A person must accept and deal with unhappiness in life.  So, as you can expect, in order to be happy you must be able to handle unhappiness and all that goes with it.

I always thought it was weird how many people can go through great suffering and pain (what we’d think is unhappiness) but have a sense of happiness in life.  This is further proof that happiness has nothing to do with superficial satisfaction but a persons worth and value in life.  Seeing worth and meaning in things can make a person handle tremendous amounts of conflict and pain.  It’s amazing.

Happiness, though, is not a single emotion to achieve.  It’s more of a state of mind that is the result of a balance in living.  It is a precarious balance too, of living right, with the correct attitude, behaving the correct way, feeling the correct way, etc.  These things are easily and often put out of balance.  When they are out of balance they must be continually be placed back in balance.  It’s an endless ongoing process.  It takes effort and work.  One of the myths, it seems to me, of being happy is that there is no work involved.  Everything is easy.  But I believe this is not true.  Happiness takes work to achieve.   It takes years of work . . . a lifetime of work.

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