Saturday, January 21, 2006

Thoughts on Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase;
if you pursue happiness you'll never find it.
C. P. Snow
I think this is very true. Trying to be happy usually involves thinking about yourself a lot. What will make me feel better? I need to give myself something or do something just for me. Actively trying to be happy is the ultimate selfishness, thinking about me-me-me.

I do believe that people are mostly self-absorbed and at any given time their inner dialogue is about their place and comfort in any given situation. So consider that the baseline of the human experience, to think only of self. Now consider this question; how are people who are more highly developed in their humanity or personality (insert whatever word you think fits best here) going to show that they are more highly developed? That they are more than they started out being, that they have raised themselves from the baseline of me-me- me thinking. How is this demonstrated? By their ability to NOT think of themselves only, but by their ability to subsume self and think of 'other'.

So to become involved in something outside of, and perhaps greater than self reveals greater personal development. That something may be another person or people; lover, children, friend, the homeless; or music, art, quilting, blogging...whatever shifts your attention from the me-me-me to the outward.

As a society we make value judgements about the 'other' that people choose. We praise those whose 'other' is charitable or artisitic. We condemn those whose 'other' is trivial. So does blogging make me a better person? I'm taken out of self and into other. But wait, I blog about self. Rats. I'm the trivial...the less developed of my thesis. Maybe I should have taken a philosphy class in college and I wouldn't have written myself into this corner. Dang it. How do I get out of this trap? Well--it started out about happiness, right? So my opinion, when we have the 'other' we have happiness. And that happiness will be ours even if the 'other' is a toy train collection or volunteering in a Habitat for Humanity project. Society will think more of the volunteer, sure, but both will likely be happy. Maybe being happy ought to make us want to share happiness through charitible efforts but that's really taking me further in my post than I intended to go. Here's the big finish:
Happiness isn't something you experience;
it's something you remember.
Ocar Levant (1906 - 1972)


Jim Estill said...

Good post. Philisophical (which is good). The quest for Zen is the journey many seek.

You said you want people to read your blog and I did so thought I should at least post some comment.


Robin said...