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Friday, November 7, 2008

Exercize two: Realizing what is happiness

Posted on Happy Minds!

Again, an easy exercise. Just contemplate a little about the nature of happiness. If you would like more of it, you’ve got to know what it is that you want!

First of all, write down your ideas about happiness. What do you think it is? What do you think it depends on? On what or whom is your happiness depending?
Do you think happiness is equal to pleasure?
Do you think happiness is equal to joy?
Do you think happiness depends on circumstances, or is it a quality of the mind?

You can ask yourself many questions, just try to answer them sincerely.

After completing your story on happiness, review it and ask yourself :
Is my happiness dependent on things that I can control?
You cannot control material things for 100%. Money gets spend, stolen, lost, objects break, burn, loose their colour, fragrance, form and value. Also, it is impossible to control other people entirely. You cannot completely prevent that sometimes they do something bad to you, like cheating, stealing, lying, gossiping, leaving you, etcetera. And you can also not completely prevent other people from getting sick or dying. We all do bad things sometimes. We all get sick sometimes. We all die at one time. That is life. You can fight these facts of life, but it is a battle you will never win. It is like trying to wrestle a mountain, you will never throw it over. A lot of happiness can be derived from trying to accept these facts!

If your happiness depends on things that you cannot control, it seems your suffering is imminent. The question is not whether you will experience setbacks, the question is when you will experience them!

So, does that mean it is impossible to be happy at all? Is happiness only possible in those (brief) moments that all seems to work in your life? Well, for as long as you think it depends entirely on things that are not in your sphere of influence, that is reality. You will only feel happy for as long as it lasts!

Is there nothing you can do to prevent your happiness from breaking apart? Well, let me tell you a little story about two men who both had it all. They lived in the same age, and both owned a private island in the pacific ocean, not far from one another. Both of them ran their own little empire and both were God-Emperor of all people who lived on their respective islands. All they wished for was possible.

The first one was a Tyrant, an ice-cold psychopath. He killed people who did not obey his every command. He made love to any woman he found attractive, but in such a violent way that all would die after just one night in his presence.
One day, a big volcano on a nearby island erupted and destroyed his island. He had to flee it in an old boat with ten of his most loyal subjects. So what did he have left? A leaky boat, and ten people who feared him tremendously. They tried to toss him overboard at any occasion they saw fit. Soon he was killed and his body fed to the sharks.

The other man was a great man, a true Gentleman. He went to great lengths in order to help his subjects with their ordeals, he tried to listen to them whenever possible and he spend all his time trying to make them as happy as possible. He too had to flee his island when the volcano exploded, using an old ship with ten of his most loyal subjects. Ten people who were willing to do anything to protect his life, who enjoyed his company, who shared with him whatever they had. They sailed the seas for a long time, and in the end found a new island to start over. This man died at an old age surrounded by his loved ones.

So, look closely at all the things that you have. Do you have a warm house to live in? Do you have good food to eat? Do you have friends and family to share time with? Look at your little kingdom, and then take a good look at yourself. Are you like the Tyrant who had nothing left when the volcano erupted, or are you like the Gentleman who devoted all his time to the happiness of his loved ones?
Probably, you are like neither one of them. So, when something in your kingdom goes wrong, not all happiness will evade you. However, from this story you could see, that how much happiness you will find in your life, does not depend on how lucky you will get. It depends on the choices that you make. If you decide to devote your time on making people happy, it is unlikely that you will not be able to find any love, kindness, friendship and happiness at all. But if you spend all your time on pleasing yourself, it is far from certain that you will obtain any of these things. If you are obsessed with finding the right job, the right partner, more money, more status, more power, the perfect house, getting and staying healthy, etcetera, etcetera, you will be like the Tyrant who only cared about himself. So, if you want happiness to happen to you, make it happen for the ones around you! Not because you want something from them, but because you want happiness to come into your life.

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