Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happiness, not all good

Happiness may be the same as serenity which I wrote about yesterday -- but most people would not think so.  Happiness as we Americans  think about it, write about it, talk about it and pursue it is something we think is an inalienable right.  Not.  Nor is it, says the article I just read here, always a positive nor the best state of mind for the circumstance.

I knew that.  A lot of people don't seem to get hung up on words and their meaning the way I do.  Happiness, love, freedom, liberty, fairness  -- and a lot of bigger words that in most cases are less complicated to define than those relatively short, often used ones -- they all make me pause now and then and realize my definition probably isn't yours.  Ever since Tom Jefferson, et al, wrote that nine lettered word and made it a standard for this country the idea has, in a sense, been taken in vain, as once people did the names of deities.  June Gruber, the author of that relatively short article from a Berkeley publication called Greater Good Newsletter, explains that the current spate of articles and books about the necessity of raising happy children, as well as being happy oneself, is really another media hype. Yes, I knew that.

For most of human life the concept of happiness probably didn't exist.  I think contentment was once sought after and could be attained with a full belly and a nice warm fire and maybe a few animal skins to wrap oneself in.  When those basic conditions were met, humans would have purred like a kitten if purring were part of our vocal mechanism.  As civilizations advanced we made up a lot more words but I wonder how long it took to come up with "happy" also with "love." Surely "freedom and liberty" came much, much later.  And "serenity" -- oh that's a complex one beneath the surface, isn't it?  Not to get into this too deep, let me just wonder which of those words mean the most to the senior citizens like myself -- by the way I haven't used "security." -- that underlies most of the others, doesn't it.  Security, I think is quite a late comer to our group of generalities, and most seek it much harder than any of the other biggies.

6 comments:

Rubye Jack said...

You can't have happiness without security, whatever that may mean but at least it is a place to shelter us and enough food to eat at a minimum.

More than anything else, I cherish being content nowadays. Content is a very good thing.

June Calender said...

You're right, Rubye, I definitely shouldn't have left out the word content. That's mostly what I am and I agree, it's a very good thing.

zippiknits said...

Your thoughts have so much merit, and thank you for sharing them. I truly enjoy your blog.

This is how I think and live: In this world of hurt, I decided to be happy. It's a decision I don't take lightly, nor do I regret it. I do fight for what I think is right, which is also my duty to my fellow citizens in a democracy.

Also, since the Dalai Lama prays every day for the happiness of all sentient beings -which is his reason for existing, as explained by his first regent and teacher - and his purpose in this life is to love them, that makes sense to me, too. I pray for them, and love them all, too.

Peace and Love are wished for you, most thoughtful and amazing person.

June Calender said...

Thanks for your kind words and for your beautiful philosophy, Zippiknits.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- How can we really define the state of our emotions? Rather impossible I believe. Too complex. Words are inadequate to define an emotion. We might come close but not that close. Just live the up and down roller coaster ride of life. And be sure and hold on tight. -- barbara

monicadevine said...

I also believe happiness is a decision. I've tried it out myself during a period of physical pain and found adjusting my attitude actually made me feel better. (if the word happiness conjures up a flashing neon smiley face...I think only children emanate this effortlessly). The word content carries more clarity...