Happiness in this World

Happiness is something that comes into our lives through doors we don’t even remember leaving open. ~  Rose Lane

This morning I am contemplating what it means to be happy. A few days ago I watched a wonderful documentary called Happy.  It was a perfect reminder to focus on what is truly important in life.

So much of what Westerners think of as happiness has to do with material success, yet some of the happiest people on earth have relatively limited material belongings and instead find happiness in relationships, experiences, and in “living in the moment.”

Being present to life as it unfolds can bring great joy.  In fact, it can be very freeing to embrace the notion that this moment — the present  — is the only one in which we can live.  Although we often dwell on the past and dream of the future, we cannot actually live in either place.

Now is all there is.

And many of us waste what might make us happy now by turning our focus to things that aren’t here yet, thinking that we can be happy once we’ve made a name for ourselves, or once we’ve gotten married, or once we get the job, promotion, car, house — fill in the blank.  What we forget is that our lives are a series of moments.  Present moments strung together.  And we cannot forge any sort of lasting happiness by daydreaming about our ship coming in, or wishing we’d acted differently (or others had acted differently) in the past. If only. If only we’d taken a different route. If only we’d risked our hearts. If only we’d tried something that scared us to death.

However, if we live in the burning aliveness of the present, we will have fewer feelings of if only.  We will have fewer regrets.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.Buddha

One of the tenets of the Buddhism I practice is the notion of absolute happiness. We are told that by embracing Buddhism and practicing diligently, we can become absolutely happy.

Absolute happiness is not the same as the rapture we feel as we fall in love or the thrill of a victory after a long struggle.

Absolute happiness is a state of being that allows us to be happy no matter what.  No matter what is going on in our daily lives.  Whether we are sick, broke or jobless — or the opposite of those conditions — no longer matters. We ride the waves instead of drown in them. Happiness is an inner state of life. It is not a destination. It is a choice.  Every day we choose to be thankful for the blessings we have.  We remain present with our challenges and our joys.  We find happiness in the act of being human and in the great fortune of being alive. We are here. We have another day.

We truly are blessed.

We share our good fortune.  We open our hearts to those who might be suffering.

We begin from the recognition that all beings cherish happiness and do not want suffering. It then becomes both morally wrong and pragmatically unwise to pursue only one’s own happiness oblivious to the feelings and aspirations of all others who surround us as members of the same human family. The wiser course is to think of others when pursuing our own happiness.The Dalai Lama

Burdens that are shared are half what they might have been. Every day I realize that I can choose to live in joy or I can choose not to.  So many of our experiences are colored by the way we choose to interpret our circumstances.  So even in these troubled times, where half the world is convinced the world’s about to end, we can still be happy.  We can still spread laughter and joy and gladness.  We can still foster change and support those whose difficulties are making their lives painful. We can hold someone’s hand.  We can walk their dog or wash their dishes.  We can get on our knees and pray for sweet relief.  If we are in pain, we can turn our attention to someone else’s suffering. We can help them grocery shop or weed or talk them down from the metaphorical ledges they may have staked out inside their minds.

We are all fragile. We all need each other.

We are ephemeral, mortal beings. The time to be happy is now.

© 2012  Shavawn M. Berry  All rights reserved

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4 thoughts on “Happiness in this World

  1. I truly love your blog. Your light and your voice shine quite brightly. Thank you for sharing this; and I feel blessed to have read it. It actually made my tear up a bit. 😛 Thank you thank you thank you! And see you in class! haha

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