A client came into my office today with a wry smile having had just heard Andy Williams singing in the hallway (on the intercom).
Many people I know would say that it’s one of the most painful times of the year. Painful because of who is not here to share it with or painful because of who IS here with demands, expectations, pressures.
Most of all, the fantasies of HOW IT SHOULD BE and the fantasies that EVERYONE else is happy fuel our discontent, disappointment and dissatisfaction (Three “d” words, pretty clever, eh? – ah but I digress into my own ego-fueled fog)
Happiness is probably the most misunderstood concept of the Western World. (Can’t speak for the Eastern, Southern or Northern Worlds so those of you who live there please let me know)
Advertising tells us that happiness is only a purchase away. This is part of living in a society that is driven by goals and outcomes, and in which happiness is something that can be pursued and acquired.
I was reading a Bahai blog post by Preethi (don’t know who Preethi is but the posts are always well written and thought-provoking). S/He begins:
“On average, the population of today’s world live with more material comfort, less illness, greater equality and far more opportunities than people who lived at any other time in history. In spite of this, the World Health Organization has estimated that by the year 2030, depression will be the most prevalent and debilitating illness in the world – in both rich and poor nations.
Judging from the number of bestselling self-help books out there on how to achieve happiness in life, this question seems to be a pretty big one for a lot of people. It seems that many people acknowledge that in spite of being financially comfortable, having a good job and an active social life, true happiness remains out of reach.
Fifteen minutes on Facebook can often leave us feeling that the happiest people out there are the ones who have an endless number of friends, the ones who go on great adventures overseas and the ones who have amazing jobs. Focusing on the things that other people have that we might not have can easily lead us to believe that our happiness is dependent upon our life being exactly the way we’d like it to be.
So it’s interesting to see what the Baha’i writings have to say on the topic. ‘Abdu’l Baha talks about two kinds of happiness –”
“Happiness consists of two kinds: physical and spiritual. The physical happiness is limited; its utmost duration is one day, one month, one year. It has no result. Spiritual happiness is eternal and unfathomable. This kind of happiness appeareth in one’s soul with the love of God and suffereth one to attain to the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Therefore, endeavour as much as thou art able in order to illumine the lamp of thy heart by the light of love.”
Whatever your beliefs (or disbelief) I agree with Preethi that this pinpoints the fundamental flaw in our understanding of happiness and why we are left frustrated and lost:
Happiness is an attitude we foster rather than something we possess.
Happiness is a condition of being rather than of having.
What are your thoughts on finding “true happiness” at this MOST Wonderful Time of the Year?