Friday, September 26, 2014
Looking for Happiness
"Look for happiness and you will find it", the slip of paper inside my fortune cookie assured.
Well, that's nice and trite, I thought. And yet...
The pursuit of happiness is one of three Creator endowed inalienable rights, according to the Declaration of Independence (the other 2 rights being life and liberty).
That's a pretty powerful endorsement for the search for happiness, isn't it? Actually, I am rather intrigued with the inclusion of happiness among those rights. Life and liberty, I can understand; those are worthy entities to be identified as inalienable rights and be included in such a significant document. But to include the pursuit of happiness! Perhaps life and liberty, by themselves, without happiness, are not enough.
Buddhist meditations on loving-kindness usually begin with the phrase, "May all beings be well and happy."
Obviously, happiness is a very important entity.
So, how does one pursue happiness? What does one do? Where does one look? Where would one find it?
I believe that happiness is a rather individual thing and differs from one person to another. For me, happiness is a state of being. It is being content with who I am and what I have, for the most part. Daughter often remarks that I am easily pleased. And she's right! It really doesn't take a lot to make me happy.
This is not to say that I am happy all the time. There are times when I worry and feel anxious, times when I fret, times when I am angry, or hurt and sad. But, for the most part, I am happy and content.
So where do I look for my happiness? I look for it in my everyday life. In all the things I do and experience during the course of the day. Routine things. Ordinary, everyday tasks. Regular happenings.
And do I find it? Yes!
I find it in my daughter's sleepy, "Good morning", at the other end of the phone, when we call each other to wake each other and in her almost as sleepy "Good night" at the end of the day; I find it in the loud purring of the cat as he nudges me for his treat of tuna; I find it in the act of saying my daily devotions and listening to daughter saying hers; I find it in the cup of coffee I make and drink (in my favorite mug, stirred with my favorite spoon); in having a job I enjoy doing (although there are days when I'd rather sleep in than go to the office!); I can even find happiness in the commute to and from work (I enjoy driving and I meditate and listen to music while I drive; for 4 years, I drove 4 hours each day, 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening).
I find happiness in doing all the small, money-saving things I do which enable me to live debt-free. I find much happiness in my leisure time activities such as reading, gardening, doing crafts, etc. There are some household tasks that make me happy, as well: organizing my linen closet, for example (other household tasks, such as scrubbing the toilet, happen to be less happiness inducing, but I find pleasure in the knowledge that the house is clean; messy, perhaps, and cluttered, but, clean.)
I find happiness in nature - the sight of a red-tailed hawk circling above, a hummingbird flitting about the garden, the purple of a thistle growing and flowering on the side of the road. I find happiness in harvesting the bounty of the garden and turning it into the jars of jam and chutney that fill the kitchen cupboard, waiting to be given as gifts during the holidays.
And I find happiness in family and friends. An aunt's phone call, a friend's visit, an exchange of emails, a cheerful greeting and wave hello with a neighbor, are all sources of happiness.
I look for happiness in my everyday life and I find it everywhere, spread throughout my day.
How about you? What makes you happy? Where do you look to find your happiness?