Saturday, October 02, 2004

What's your idea of happiness?

What's your idea of happiness?

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Friday, October 1, 2004 11:48 PM

Happiness means different things to different people. One man’s happiness is another man’s curse. A daughter runs away with her lover and marries him. She’s happy. Her family is furious. The drug addict is happy because he has been given lot of drugs by a friend. His parents despair when they learn about it.

Never mind what the others think, we all have our own ideas about what makes us happy. Webster defines happiness as “a state of well-being or pleasurable satisfaction.” But that can mean one thing for you and something else for me. I don’t drink. Never have, and don’t intend to. I have lots of friends who enjoy drinking. Some are even alcoholics, but it isn’t something that makes me happy. But for so many, drinking the night away is what makes them happy.

I have friends who regularly work out in the gym. They like sweating it out for hours. It makes them happy. Not me. If I do workouts, it’s because I have to. Though I used to be into lots of sports, that was then and this is now. Working out for me is just that: work.

For me happiness is all about having peace of mind. If you have inner peace, you’re happy. It doesn’t matter where you are or whatever are your circumstances. If you have inner peace, you surely are happy.

But having peace of mind and keeping it isn’t as easy as it might seem. There are so many things, people and events that come into our lives unexpectedly and disturb our peace of mind. The death or the loss of a loved one, frustration, rejection, setbacks, etc. Any number of things can threaten our peace of mind.

It seems like we are constantly riding a roller-coaster when it concerns our happiness. There is an unending series of ups and downs. Just when we have peace, something happens and we find ourselves in a dive. It is a constant struggle to keep ourselves balanced and hold steady in inner peace. It is truly amazing how easily we get disturbed and find ourselves trying to regain that peace of mind that was ours just a while ago.

This is why the way to inner peace lies within us, not in bank accounts, mansions, fame or good fortune. We need to learn well the ways of those who came before us and who found the keys to inner peace. A most important factor is the acceptance and understanding of reality. Knowing and accepting that life deals us a mixed bag of highs and lows. The ability to accept the fact that we are never exempted from the lows. The inescapable reality of the need to struggle in life and work hard to gain peace of mind. The reality that constant happiness is a pipe dream that is an impossibility.

So much of our unhappiness is the result of our unrealistic expectations. If only we can learn to see reality as it is and not as we would like it to be, and then accept it and the pain it gives, then we might still salvage a measure of happiness even in the midst of suffering and disappointment.

Then perhaps we can identify with the words of Saint Augustine: “We, oh Lord, are restless till we rest in You.”


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