LET HAPPINESS COME TO YOU
(read to the end – I promise it is less painful than the beginning)
"As I sit in the dining room of the Grand America, nestled among the towering mountains of Salt Lake Valley, I gaze across the fountain in the courtyard. The synthetic waterfalls create eddies among the dormant pools that lie below. It is blissful in an ethereal sense, for I am alone, writing, contemplating, uprooting conceptions, and pondering the mysteries of life.
Of such mysteries, my mind gravitates to happiness. What a vague and humorous aspect of my mind, for often we find a friend and a foe within the delicate conceptions that cradle how we perceive happiness of our world. But like all natural and innate things in life, we must apply investigation, contemplation and digression to discover its true nature for existence."
Such words offer light into the poetry of life and happiness as they coexist, but to palette such concepts it may be easier to break down the poetic nature into relevant examples and logical sequences; this is what I hope to achieve with you as my companion. In our quest we will attempt to answer three successive questions all building on its predecessor:
What is happiness?
How do we find happiness?
How do we hold onto happiness?
First, what is happiness? I believe happiness to be the perception of “good” (or positive) inner light we discover within ourselves and others. It is like the metaphysics of existence, the dark energy of the cosmos, a god (or God), the omniscient force driving humanity, or lack thereof. It is a difficult concept to put to words but easily felt, one which is infinite yet sometimes hidden within our souls. But most importantly it is shared by all. The shared realization of happiness took me some time to see. I spent many dark days, depressed weeks, loathful months and lonely years conceptualizing and subsequently actualizing my mythical happiness into reality. With perseverance through difficult times, many of which I subjectively suffered through, I was able to see happiness as an endless expanse of shared light connecting people at the foundation of existence: soul.
From this quest I realized that happiness was not something to be labeled, nor defined or categorized, for it is the unexplainable, the vague and uncertain. Each time I tried to define happiness and search for it in the world, it seemed to become more distant. Eventually I reached a point where I gave up searching for things that I could not define and instead accepted my existence as it was: a life passing in the continuum of time and space defined by the relationships and interactions I shared with others.
At this point you may be sitting on the subway or at home or at the office or gym or local coffee shop, hell you may be even reading this as you take a shit, retorting: “you’re full of it” or “you’re spot on” or “I don’t know how I feel about this” or “why are you making this so complicated” or “what am I going to have or lunch tomorrow” or “wait, I fucking left my keys at the office!”. But this friends is just the point; why attempt to label and define something that itself is so perfect in creation and existence? Find comfort in the uncertain and let the happiness come to you.
Next question: how do we find happiness? I believe it is found through the recognition of three principles, two of which drive the emergence of the third. The two driving factors are 1) time and 2) space with the third resultant factor being energy. To palette this differently, think about it as questions to yourself: are you happy with the time in which you exist (commonly known as resting awareness or presence)? And are you happy with the space in which you exist (this is also resting awareness or presence)? Now these are interesting and yet difficult questions to answer so I will offer an example: I sit in Utah for a job interview thousands of miles away from the love of my life and my family and puppy, knowing that if I get, and take this job, I will be very far from things that create happiness in time. But yet I feel a longing for change in my career and atmosphere. Here I have identified that although I find happiness in time, I have not yet cultivated happiness within the space which I exist.
And this is where variation now plays a key component in finding happiness. Variation in life allows for you to change the choices you make. Whether the choice is as simple as brushing your teeth or moving across country to find freedom in nature, the choice is still yours to make. The recognition of your ability to choose will most certainly allow you to manipulate the happiness you find in both time and space. But let’s break this down a little more: it is also important to recognize that you exist within time and space for if this recognition did not occur, well, you might be a thought, a blip on a computer screen, a memory or a collection of 1’s and 0’s. It is trivial to worry about such metaphysical concepts when happiness can be found in a smile, a hug, a pout or a handshake.
So now we can step away from the logic and sit back and look at the energy of happiness. If we can interject variation into our lives, enabling us to make decisions that drive happiness in time and space, inevitably we will be ignited with the energy of happiness. It is like starting a grill: the grill has always been hooked up to the propane tank but until you open the valve and hit the igniter, you don’t have a flame to cook your delicious meal. The energy of happiness is very similar.
But it is also important to recognize when your grill has started. For example, you brush your teeth each morning which you probably do because society tells us it is good for dental hygiene and prevents an unwanted visit to the dentist. But when you brush your teeth do you find yourself saying “WOW, I am really happy to take 2 minutes each morning to do this” (now you know how long I brush my teeth) and then “WOW, I am really happy standing at my bathroom sink, on the tiled floor, brushing off these fuzzy sweaters” (now you also know I have bad morning breath). I for certain do this… almost never. But herein lies the point, if you were to switch your perspective to find happiness in that time, and then in that space, you could ignite your happy energy simply by brushing your teeth - which hell, if it is that easy, why does it seem so hard?
Well it is hard because of desire, which brings us to question three, how do I hold onto happiness? Desire is like the balloon you hold at the state fair as a kid. You love your balloon, you cherish your balloon, in fact your balloon is your best friend for the five minutes you have it until your little hand slips and the wind claims that balloon as its own. What are your thoughts then and there? Most likely they are along the lines of: “oh no, I just lost my best friend”. So you start to chase your balloon longing for the feelings that balloon gave you for the minutes you had it. Think of happy energy, or happiness, in the same way: you have it then you don’t but all the time you don’t have it, you are desiring to get it back. The desire to get it back distracts you from seeing the happiness in the time and space in which you brush your teeth; fuck that balloon! But yet again herein lies the point: stop chasing the balloon, stop thinking that balloon will never come back to you. What if one day you’re sitting in your yard and the balloon wrongfully stolen from some five year old child at the state fair, drifts into your lap? Will you sit there and remember the time you lost your balloon and say “shit, ya know I have been waiting for you for 25 years, screw you man, fly back to your boy.” No, we would just take the balloon and run because we don’t want to lose the balloon ever again.
The point is that life is often easier than we make it out to be; we have technology and smartphones and adult relationships and work and passion projects and travel to distract us from the fact that happiness sits in our toothpaste. Life is interesting like this because it is not stagnant like rock nor is it fluid like water but it is something in between, like an equilibrium that if it gets thrown off then we wait for the subway for an extra minute and get pissed because we think our boss is angry that we showed up a minute late to work. It is truly a collection of trivial perceptions built up over time that lead us to divert our attention from happiness to desire, forgetting that happiness in time and space allows us to ignite happy energy that we can then share with ourselves and others.
I will tell you from experience that if you embark on a path to begin recognition of happiness in time and space it will be painful and you will most likely find yourself frustrated and sometimes alone, but the upside is that, at some point, light bulbs will begin to flicker and shine in your mind like Old Towne Christmas lights, beautifully present and continuous within singular moments of existence.
But lastly I want to share this with you, whether you pull something from this or not, because it is a reflection of my mind and the happiness I have learned to find in every moment I share with myself and others. I breathe in bright tendrils of light and exhale smoky plumes of suffering all to remind myself that every moment I spend on Earth is a moment well spent with beings that are built from the same substance as I: pure happiness.
Best of luck in life and the quest for happiness my friends.