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In a recent conversation with a friend, I was asked if I was happy. This was a simple question; one that friends often ask, one that we may ask ourselves from time to time. But as a student of depth psychology, there are no simple questions. All of life experiences, whether effortless or complex, are worth examination. Some may call it over analyzing, others, too deep. I call it a process of self-discovery.

As I began pondering this question, I thought about the principle of happiness.  Immanuel Kant stated, “Happiness is not an ideal of reason but of imagination”. Interesting statement, since what’s imagined is not always attained.  Yet, we spend many hours reasoning our way through the mediocre job, good enough marriage, ordinary parenting, all the while wondering “what if” different decisions had been made. The media reinforces this idea of ultimate happiness by showing us the better car, spotless home and perfect relationship, usually in advertisements for anti-depressants, cosmetics or botox treatment.  The “perfect” pill or procedure to give us the “flawless” body and mind, so we can attract the “right” partner and live the “ideal” life.

Yet what is happiness? Wikipedia defines it as “a state of mind or feeling such as contentment, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy”.  Is it a positive cash flow? Feeling immense love? Self-gratification, or a worthy sense of purpose in life? Can money buy happiness? Does living in bliss add years to our lives? What are the latest 10 things we “must” do to get there? Is grass really greener on the other side?

I’m not sure whether the answers to the above questions really exist. In my opinion, reality is each individual’s perception of his life. Ask a wealthy person whether his bank statement is enough to bring forward that desired state of paradise, and we will probably get a different answer than if the same question was posed to someone on the verge of bankruptcy.

I’ve been wealthy and poor, single and married, top salary earner and unemployed, healthy and sick, and throughout all the states, often wondered if there was something more to make me complete. I’ve reached ecstasy and discontent all within the same day and neither feeling was enough by itself.

So here is my reality: true happiness is living in the gaps of life. Pure bliss is surrendering to the unknown. To be truly present to the incompleteness that I feel: joy, pain, desire, contentment, yet detached from the outcome. To stop looking outward and tune inward to my desires without judgment. To live in possibility and potential instead of “the good enough”. That is my ideal state of happiness.

Henry David Thoreau wrote “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them”. What is your song? What is your idea of happiness?

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9 Responses to “In Pursuit of Happiness”

  1. gregorylent says:

    happy or sad has nothing to do with anything .. bliss, ananda, the nature of the self, of consciousness, is impersonal ..

    no you = "happiness", but what i a dumb and devalued word, it should no longer be used by any sincere person .. coke's new campaign, "open happiness" is all you need to know

  2. Snowkitten says:

    I think happiness is when you feel at least mostly content with your life. We can never truly be satisfied, or what drive is there to keep going? To change? To do better? Etc…. But when the positives mostly outweigh the negatives, life is good.

  3. rashin says:

    True desires don't ever get satisfied, and that is what keeps us evolving. Thank you for your feedback.

  4. Martina Brown says:

    I thought at one point of my life I knew what happiness was for me. I lost it somewhere. Someone today asked me if I was happy and what makes me happy. I wasn't sure how to answer it. I play the happiness game and stay positive and focused. Maybe I will figure it out and be able to wrap myself in my own happiness

  5. Diana says:

    I don't want to confuse happiness with satisfaction, as I was about to do. I was about to say that happiness could only be experienced in retrospect, but that is satisfaction. Happiness, then, must be that MOMENT or few moments when all seems right in my world, everyone is well, or near, or at least in touch emotionally. It's quite fleeting. You can summon it but it might not come. It's fickle and headstrong and sometimes unavailable—staying at someone else's house. I can think of what might make me happy, but I can never be sure that by the time I get there, that will remain true.

  6. Diana says:

    I like your comment about Coke. I have to admit, I stay away from it because it does make me quite happy in a drugged sort of way. And it's addictive for me. But yes, it makes me feel "happier" at the time.
    And yes I get your idea that bliss is when there is "no me."

  7. rashin says:

    Very true. Just like happiness, life also happens in moments. Being fully present to them, I believe, is how to get the most out of our experiences.

  8. rashin says:

    I think we all lose our way at one point or another, and with that, our ideas and expectations. But isn't that really how we get in touch with our true desires? Don't we find ourselves through our wounds and moments of confusion? I think so and life proves that to me each time I feel as if I'm drowning.

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