How Much Happiness Do We Deserve?

Happiness. Joy. Contentment. Ecstasy. Satisfaction. Humans have contemplated the concept of happiness since humans began contemplating. The Judeo-Christian religions, along with Islam, tell us not to be too concerned with happiness in this lifetime; do good, follow the rules, and you will be rewarded in the next life. Many pragmatic people today will tell us that reaching for joy is unrealistic; we should be satisfied with the absence of misery. There seems to be a budding movement towards the belief that true happiness is not only achievable, but a natural state, that is within all of us, and we just need to find our way back to it. In actuality, this is not a new way of thinking. Buddhists, yogis and Tantrics have been saying this for millenia. The first line of the Dalai Lama’s book, The Art of Happiness, states:

I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or not, we are all seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…

The ancient sage, Patanjali, who codified and wrote down the Yoga Sutras, some time around the second century, BCE, lists, santosha, or contentment, not as an option, but as a requirement, for living a right lifestyle. The Declaration of Independence of the United States even calls the pursuit of happiness an unalienable right, which is, endowed by (our) Creator.  So, happiness has obviously been on the minds of big thinkers for a long time.

How does this tie into a blog about finances? Well, we’ve all heard the line, “money can’t buy happiness,” umpteen times. And, while I agree with this statement completely, I will say that lack of money definitely contributes to unhappiness. Lack of money causes everything from sleepless nights to losing one’s home to the destruction of families. So, how does one maintain or pursue happiness when one is not making ends meet? If there were an easy answer to that question, the self-help section at Border’s Books would not be so huge. My answer…practice. Like yoga, like meditation, like any sport or playing a musical instrument, getting good at anything takes practice and dedication. It’s not easy to stay happy, especially in times of financial crisis, political rediculousness, war, junk food and ecological degradation. So, I keep at it. I practice gratitude, I try to do activities that make me happy (yoga, cooking, reading, spending time with family and friends, and being outside and connecting with Mother Nature). I also try to make others happy. It is amazing how the act of making another happy raises my own happiness!

I’m not happy all the time. Nobody is. But, I’m determined not to let finances, or any other outside influence keep me from happiness. I believe it is our birthright to be happy. And like all good things in life, it take some effort. I am willing to make that effort.

 

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4 comments so far

  1. Kelly on

    Great writing! Would love to read it in classes, is that okay?

  2. mavstel on

    A Happiness Practitioner!
    I like that idea!

  3. Whitney on

    Great post, Alex. I love the concept of Santosha; it puts an entirely different spin on my efforts toward a happy life. The idea of practicing applies in all areas of our lives. Practicing is all we really can do as we never actually arrive.


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