Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happiness is an Evolution

Happiness is not a summit that you scale once, but as many times as your perception changes the destination that you desire.

Happiness. Kind of a loaded word, isn't it? We think that there's some magic formula for it; some sort of "end-all" solution, if you will. If we could somehow just accomplish "this" and "that," we'd finally feel free enough to keep smiling.

A friend of mine, "L" and I were discussing fate the other night. By fate I mean the results, effects, or situations that one ends up living with. We both agreed that one's life is a combination of circumstances and choices. Now, some believe that circumstances are self-created or come from karma extending beyond our conscious memories. Others believe that circumstances are completely random, and have nothing to do with our thoughts and actions. They don't believe in past lives. They believe that circumstances are out of our complete control and the only thing we can do is react. Some might even go so far to say that our life's circumstances are shaped and controlled by some outside set of spiritual forces.

I think there's truth to all of the above and more. How can we, conscious as humans, even think that there is one single answer or that we've even uncovered all of the equation? I can think of many examples in my own life that would fit into several of those categories. The things that we have direct control over and the things that we don't mix together to produce a result that we have to respond to. Perception, personal influence, behavioral preferences - they're all factored into our choices and our environment. But that doesn't mean that we completely control someone else's, whether they be tangible or intangible.

Life and happiness, I think, go something like this: we become aware that we want something. Then we attempt to go after it; to accomplish it. While we're on that journey we may or may not reach the summit we've sketched out for ourselves. We may, in fact, reach one that we didn't sketch. We may not reach one at all, but decide that we'd rather stop, turn around, and go back down to the valley because we suddenly realize that we didn't want to leave.

The one thing I think we do accomplish is the discovery of who we are. We discover that the perception of who we would like to be is not something that is created in a single afternoon, or a year, or a single lifetime. Happiness, I think, is the discovery that nothing tangible or "destination worthy" is going to result in an eternal feeling of euphoria. The outer things that can bring us that feeling are always going to change, as long as we exist.

Happiness, the kind that brings a sense of inner release and peace, comes from a simple choice. That choice says besides happiness, what alternative is there?

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