Rational, thinking human beings wish to be happy. It’s no sin to want happiness. It’s just our process getting us there is often flawed. Our human default is to want direct possession of a thing we cannot directly possess. Happiness only comes from indirect means. Happiness, certainly as it manifests in relational life, only comes as we’re prepared to give it away.
Happiness personified is the embodiment of our being that’s filled with joy.
We might imagine never feeling better. That’s a terrific vision, but how might we get there?
Focusing On The Right Centre-Point
Enjoying the product that is espoused happiness benefits from investment in a process. Happiness is not a product in itself, unless we think of happiness as licking an ice cream. But if we’re after a more sustaining happiness we need to think deeper.
The right centre-point for happiness is a paradox—an opposite.
It involves taking our natural focus off ourselves and placing it, voluntarily, on others; getting interested, compassionate, patient, and tolerant with others and it’s getting involved, for their benefit, in their suffering. It’s about taking our sullen and forlorn outlooks and shelving them enough for some authentic enquiry into others’ lives—in a loving, non-intrusive way.
The right centre-point for happiness is a focus away from ourselves and toward others, with a critical disclaimer: we must first be centred enough within ourselves to hold the others’ concerns safely enough without compromising our own safety.
An Important Clarification – Get Centred
Running after others, as if to serve them to the ends of their desires, is taking these ideas too far. There must be an essential centredness within us as we seek to serve. Only when we’re safe within ourselves can we enjoy service to others. Otherwise it’s drudgery, as all work can be seen as either joy or graft.
It’s important to clarify this. Many people read about ideas for happiness and become further frustrated, because they’ve tried these things and happiness has eluded them.
So, before we can serve others, enjoying thoughts of life within their skin, hearts and minds, we need to be comfortable within our skin, hearts and minds.
Achieving happiness is feeling safe enough within to afford investment in others’ lives. When others feel loved by us, we too feel loved. This is not about self-neglect, but an extension of self-interest via an interest in others.
Being genuinely interested in others’ struggles—being free and able to do it—is a way to experiencing true happiness.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.