One day, while on temporary assignment to the U.S., an associate invited me for lunch. Typical of American lunches, I ordered hamburger, chips and a beer.
When the waitress took my order, she asked. “How would you like your hamburger? Well done, medium rare or rare? I said, “Well done.”
“Do you want tomatoes in your hamburger?” I said, “Yes.”
“What kind of tomatoes?” I said, “Why, how many kinds of tomatoes do you have?”
Then she started rattling off what they have. After the third, I said, “Stop. Just put in tomato tomato, ok?”
She smiled and said, “Tomato tomato. I like that. And what about your beer?”
I gave her a look that practically said, “Just get on with my hamburger and grab the nearest beer on your way back.”
The same thing can happen in our search for happiness. It can be very difficult, not because it doesn’t exist, but because it comes in so many ways, e.g. well-done, medium rare or rare.
It can come in as many colors as the spectrum and in small, medium, large, extra and super large sizes.
It can be fleeting or stay with us a little longer. Sometimes we don’t even know we already have it until it is gone.
The problem with happiness is that no size fits all.
To find it, we must know precisely what we are looking for.
What is happiness?
Happiness can be defined countless ways, but I like this best:
Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
It’s kind of pretty ethereal. It cannot be seen, touched, smelled. It can only be felt and experienced.
It is the main purpose of life; the very heart of being human. To seek happiness and avoid suffering are things shared by all of us.
If it is our right to be happy, if it is at the very heart of our being human, then why has it evaded a vast majority of humanity? Why are there so much suffering and unhappiness in the world?
Is it because we are looking where it cannot be found or doing things that cannot give it shape and growth?
I find ordering a hamburger with all kinds to tomatoes, and a going through every bottle of beer in a rack easier than to propose an answer to those questions.
But I can venture a facts sheet on happiness from my years of searching for it.
- There is no perfect happiness:
Perfection is the realm of angels, not for man. Nothing perfect can come out of anything imperfect.
- True happiness can only be found in a stare of virtue:
Virtue is a behavior showing high moral standards.
According to Benjamin Franklin: Nothing but an indifference to the things of this world, an entire submission to the will of Providence here, and a well-grounded expectation of happiness hereafter, can give us a true satisfactory enjoyment of ourselves.
Then he added: Virtue is the best guard against the many unavoidable evils incident to us; nothing better alleviates the weight of the afflictions or gives a truer relish of the blessings of human life.
Supporting his view, Sogyal Rinpoche said, “True happiness and peace of mind cannot be found in anything external; it can only be found within.”
- Happiness cannot exist outside of your core values:
Core values are beliefs and convictions that guide and direct our behavior and support our purpose and vision. Our core values define who we are.
Can you be happy by not being you?
“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” – Abraham Lincoln.
- Instant gratification is not happiness:
Picking 10 bucks off the street can buy a lunch, but it cannot cover dinner.
In our fast-paced society, instant gratification has practically become a part of life. We have fast food, fast lane, fast-tracked projects, instant marriages and divorces. Everything has to be done fast – even happiness. Thus people resort to drugs, alcohol, and illicit relationships believing happiness is there.
Happiness cannot be found in these foibles of man. Yet he engages in these over and over again until he becomes addicted to them.
Happiness through instant gratification is like an oasis in a desert – it provides temporary shelter. The moment you move out, the harsh heat of the sun will beat down on you again, parching your throat with thirst.
Seek happiness that will last longer than a one-night stand.
- Happiness can last long but never constant:
Longevity and constancy are not the same. At 65 of age, I have lived long but have not been in constant good health, or constantly happy.
Happiness is an emotion, just like fear, anger, envy, lust, greed and many others vying for our brain’s attention. Anyone of these, at any moment in a given day, can take the upper hand and influence our behavior.
That’s normal. What is not normal is for you to allow these unnecessary evils inherent to our being human rob you of your right to be happy.
Happiness ebbs and flows like the tide. But a person with strong self awareness will find happiness like the sands on the shore – it will always be there no matter which way the tide goes.
- Happiness is a choice:
This is probably the most overused phrase on happiness. Yet a lot of people continue to make the wrong choice.
Choosing happiness is not picking up items in a flea market which, when laid down on your table, give you not a bit of personal satisfaction.
It is a deliberate decision resulting from a conscious effort of weighing your alternatives given you by the voice from within.
Can we find real happiness?
Definitely. Find yourself and therein your happiness lies.
Join me next time as we tie happiness and success together.