I read somewhere that when you ask a truly happy person if he or she is happy, the answer is a look of puzzlement—they just don’t spend any time thinking about whether or not they’re happy. However, an unhappy person can tell you chapter and verse all the most minute things that are wrong with their lives because they think a lot about it.
So the secret to happiness, according to what I read?
First, happiness comes from NOT pursuing happiness directly—just losing yourself in meaningful activity or service outside yourself. (So I already screwed up. Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that spending time writing blogs doesn’t qualify as altruistic service to mankind?)
Second, happiness comes from finding who we are and doing worthwhile things—of living life the way we know life should be lived. (Hmm . . I’m sure I left that moral compass around here somewhere. Check the couch cushions?? Under the front seat of the car?)
Third, happiness is being in harmony with those around you. (Yea, but I get to sing alto or I’m quitting the choir.)
But most importantly, happiness is achieved through living simply and being satisfied with what we have got. (What?!? And give up my favorite hobby of coveting? Coveting my neighbor’s husband and her children and her slaves and her goats and her sheep and her cattle and her ass and her lake home and her Toyota Prius? You mean I was supposed to take that 10th Commandment seriously?? I thought Moses was just trying to come up with an even number of commandments.)
In old age, happiness is an accumulation of good memories when we don’t have the strength to do the meaningful activities any more. (Yeah, but I have some really outstanding grudges that I’d like to hang onto so I can mull them over a little more thoroughly in the nursing home. Nothing tastes better than a well-aged grudge with a slightly oaky flavor.)
This happiness business sounds like a lot of work.