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The Pursuit of Happiness



After my return from Colorado last month, I wrote a post describing the disappointment and resulting depression I felt after I was unable to complete the goals I'd set for the trip. I've spent the weeks since absorbed in the election, but really, absorbed in my thoughts as I've tried to decide what to do next. I still haven't figured that part out, but I have at least gotten out of bed...and begun reading, heading to the beach, exploring options and being much more proactive than I was at first. I've even started writing again, I'm half-way through a new chapter in the novel in progress.

Shortly after that original post, a friend sent an email cautioning me that perhaps I was pursuing the wrong things, that true happiness would not be found in externalities, but within. Interestingly, the first few times I read his email it was if through a fog, I could barely make out the words. Over the weeks, I moved through the feelings that clouded my thoughts, made sleep a dream-filled adventure that left me exhausted, and my days filled with anxious inertia as I felt trapped by my inability to come to or make a decision.

For me, happiness means living elsewhere than my South Florida home. However, what I discovered during my Colorado trip was that my mother can no longer live on her own, and she is not ready for an assisted living facility. At the same time, I feel the need to continue to live with her so that she won't have to live alone. So the question has become, can I find contentment living here, or can I find a compromise, such as living here full time but buying a house elsewhere where I can go on occasion? Tied in with that are career questions...can I commit to a career here if my heart is not here? For the past year I've basically been treading water, hoping that I would be able to move away and therefore doing just enough here to make things work. If I am to stay here, how can I create a new plan, a new dream, or a new way to make the old dream work?

Which brings me back to the email sent by my friend. I have based my definition of happiness on being there as opposed to here, doing that as opposed to this. He said that view doesn't work. I asked him if he wouldn't mind if I included it on my blog, as I found his thoughts interesting (and I am grateful that he took the time and care to write such a thoughtful response). You'll find it below....


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Hi,

I read your blog and your latest entry in it about how you came back to Florida and how it seems like your prayers are not being answered. I don't know how to post a comment in there, so I decided to write you an e-mail about it.
I have a few thoughts about it. I think the problem is that you put too much importance on the things you described, like a job, an agent, a house. You put importance on them and make them the goals that you must achieve, the goals that only if achieved can bring you happiness. But there is not such a thing as permanent happiness... its just a good feeling that is created by hormones that are released by your brain... it lasts for only short period of time. Thus even after you achieve all that, you will find something else that you will set as a goal and try to achieve that, you will start worrying and expecting and praying again. Believe me on this. You said that for fourteen years it seems like you are starting new things and can never finish them or go anywhere with them. Is it really that or is it that there is something deep, deep inside that you are striving for but you cannot determine what it is and you try different things that do not lead anywhere? I don't want to sound like a cheesy motivational speaker, but what is true is true... Every little secret, every little key to your happiness is hiding inside of you... beneath of all the layers of social programming and dictated reality. I will expand on this further but let me tell you first that I have been doing a lot of thinking lately and what I realized is that there is not one reality that we live in but there are many different realities (you might call it perception, but it is more than just a perception). Different people not only see things differently, but reality itself is different for each of them.

So one’s reality consists of many factors, like family, genes, education and all that stuff. Just as reality itself is dictated to us (by other people or genes), its small factors are also dictated. For instance happiness... it is believed that happiness is social status, marriage, money and whatever... But we need to understand why we want all that? You need to think about why you really want to find an agent? Why do you want to find a house? Really think about it. Is it because it will bring you happiness? But as I said happiness is within you, so outside factors cannot bring you happiness. It’s a false belief that they can. Only by being internally fulfilled can you obtain happiness and only after that can you achieve all the other things that you want. But your happiness should not depend on them. It should be like going to Italian restaurant and eating spaghetti. It’s good, but if you can't go, it should not be the end of the world.
The problem is that the things we pursue tend to run away from us. That’s just the way it is. It’s like being in a certain state. If you are in a pursuing that state, then things don't work out. You can look at it this way: everything tends to run towards positive energy, everything tends to run away from the negative energy. Pursuing a needy state is never positive. It indicates a negative energy within us. Only by being internally fulfilled and internally happy, can we exude positive energy, then things tend to work out and all our goals get achieved. Have you ever had a day or a moment, when you felt so great and everything seemed to work out for you? Well if we could only feel that way all the time, then we would achieve every goal we set in life. So how can we make ourselves feel that way all the time? The answer is we can't. We can't make ourselves feel great by trying. What we can do is let everything go... just let it all go.

Be happy by realizing that you are the only one in the world and in history like you. There has never been or will be a person like you. May be other people don't even exist or they exist just for you. It is all your reality. You have won the biggest lottery by being born. If your parents didn't meet you wouldn't be alive. And the same goes for your grandparents and so on. Do you know what the odds of you being born are? It is about 1:1000000000000000000000000000000... You have more chances to win all the jackpots in all the lotteries in the world at the same time, without buying a single ticket than being born. WOW!!!
It is this moment that matters. Humanity existed before you and it will exist after you. But for you it exists only during your lifetime. You have to be free from the social programming and from false beliefs. YOU DON'T REALLY NEED all that stuff... an agent, a house... you have everything within you.

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Comments

Vodka Mom said…
omg.. That was very powerful. VERY powerful. I have gone through a bit of an awakening, so to speak, in my life. When we had two tragic losses in our family last year (my nephew and father in law) I really took stock of myself and my life. I decided to kind of live each day as if it were my last. I focus on being happy in the day, whatever it brings. I reach forward, but never regret what I have or what I am doing. All that i do, and all that i have - is essentially who I am. Does that make sense? I wish you the contentment and happiness you so deserve. *hugs*
JCK said…
Wow! Your friend has incredible insight, I think. Thank you for sharing all of that with us.
Heidi @ GGIP said…
I am just happening upon your blog through the Blogher link, but I thank you for sharing.

I think your friend is a very good friend not to be afraid to speak up.
Tania said…
Really great insights! The definition of happiness is different from person to person but to become happy you have to look within. You are the only one who can make yourself truly happy. I found a radio interview where a happiness specialist, explains challenges of happiness and how we all have been influenced by mind programming, but we can program our own mind to think happy and positive thoughts. Listen to the interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDjtxTigdvc

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