Sunday, June 25, 2006

Happiness

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Over my time blogging, there have a been a few topics that have become central to my journey--a few things about which I hope to always increase my depth of understanding... topics on which I see confusion and misunderstanding. One is certainly love. One is freedom. One is truth. And one is happiness.

My thoughts on the subject of happiness are disjointed enough (and perhaps complex enough) that I can't think of how to write a readable blog entry that captures it. So, I'll just acknowledge that up front and then take a stab at it.

Happiness, according variously to Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, is the purpose of our existence. Men are that they might have joy. How we define happiness and how we believe we will reach it is where the disagreement starts. I don't think the conventional happiness I hear some pursuing is what Joseph was talking about, and I don't think that getting to real happiness is a "choose your own adventure."

So, what is happiness? I'm interested in hearing what everyone has to say. I've wondered if it is a sense of peace and fulfillment, a pleasant sense that one's life is in fulfillment of one's potential and in accordance with God's expectations. Is it loving and being loved? Is it having low enough expectations that you can never be disappointed... embracing each small blessing with gratitude and bliss, no matter how small? Is it paradoxical, as Hawthorne suggests, in that you can never achieve it when you pursue it? This makes sense to me based on my impression of what happiness is.

My experience so far is simply that when I give up my pursuit of what I think will make me happy and attempt to focus on other more principled goals, happiness inexplicably sets in. Faced with the impossible situation my sexuality and my moral views place me in, there was no conceivable way for me to achieve what I know I want more than anything. It just wasn't going to work. And I assumed that happiness was going to be impossible for me. Having relented the conflict of how to force it all to work and rather having determined to do what I believe is right rather than what will make me happy, things worked out for me. It's like facing an impenetrable wall and having stopped pushing against it with my shoulder to busy myself with helping someone else, I find myself suddenly on the other side.

4 comments:

Dave Walter said...

Happiness is, simply, spending time with my husband. Everything else pales by comparison.

My therapist told me that as an overachiever, happiness on the career front will always allude me because I will never consider an achievement sufficient.

When it comes to routine happiness, I don't have any, due to the depression diagnosis. (I'm a great stoic.)

Bottom line: Take happiness where and when you can find it, or if finds you. Or work on issues that prevent you from finding happiness.

Samantha said...

Happiness is not having what you want...it's wanting what you have???

The truth, for me, is that I can have stress, confusion, frustration, even sadness in my life, and still be happy. I'm not sure how that works. But I do know that waking up in the morning with people who love me helps. Knowing I'm living as I believe I should, helps. Being healthy helps. Seeing beauty in my life and everything around me helps.

Maybe I'm just a perpetually happy person. Perhaps my happiness is the antithesis of depression, but still an emotional disorder?

"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
Nathaniel Hawthorne"

This has happened in my life--literally and figuratively.

Chris (hurricane) said...

At it's most basic, I believe happiness is fulfillment.

Foxx said...

I find happiness in the pursuit of it. In the progress that leads me to an ever-better life. I find happiness in love.

I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all equation for happiness, but that it's some mixture of situation and attitude.