“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”

“Happiness”. We speak its name as if it’s a wedding vow (acknowledgement to Bob Dylan).

I’m worried that it’s become another compulsory mantra, like diet, “success” (in Western terms – making money).

Please don’t let happiness become compulsory. For then the lack of it will be perceived and felt as failure.

We can create the conditions for happiness – good diet, exercise, mental calm; but if happiness comes it is because of the “Gods”, not something we can “create”, like a slender figure, or money.

Happiness is fleeting but intense and we all want it. It’s a sort of spiritual orgasm. To strive for, but best of all, to be simply remembered, in reflective mode.

I am UNhappy at the current move in our culture to “sell” happiness, or the path to happiness. Such purveyors are charlatans. It is a big ask, but each of us must learn, from living, how to create the conditions for our own happiness. If it comes, it does, if it doesn’t we are not so much poorer. We can be content in our own integrity and the joy and solace we can give to others.

It is in doing those “mundane” things that we have the greatest chance of experiencing happiness. Not, in the Western way, of buying the path to it from a stranger.

What now?

I’ve travelled to many countries in the world.

“Travel broadens the mind” so we are told.

I don’t agree.  Neither Shakespeare, or Jane Austen, or Thomas Hardy travelled outside England, but if you read and understand their works fully, your mind will be broadened.

The main thing I’ve got from my travels is taste of other cultures, both literal and metaphorical, but most of all a realisation that we are all striving for the same things.  Happiness, shelter, food, clothing, and to protect our families and friends.

Sadly, we humans just don’t seem to get it.  We are suspicious of others, and often just downright nasty.  Think wars, torture, holocaust, and general unpleasantness which seems innate.

It seems to me that the first battle we have to fight is with ourselves, not others.  I, like many, have slighted a friend or a stranger.  Sometimes I was just “passing on” a slight I’d received.  Sometimes I was being downright vindictive.  Sometimes I was just thoughtless.  It pains me that those “bad” moments might have had a lasting impression on the recipient.  Perhaps they even changed their behaviour for good.  What a burden to bear.

So please try to remember, as I do now, that your words and actions can hurt not just the other person but many around them.  Like ripples from a pebble thrown into a pond.  And also bear in mind that we are all trying in our clumsy way to achieve a goal that really is very simple.  Namely happiness and fulfilment for us and others, not at the expense of others (there’s still plenty to go round if we are not greedy).