Are We Happy Yet?

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Kol Drake created the topic: Are We Happy Yet?

Being Happy. Happiness. Listen to the news or read a newspaper and 'being happy' seems like the last thing on a long list of krapola that is going on around the world.

And 'being happy' is so individual. What makes me happy may not even break the ice for most anyone else. So that makes happiness a hard thing to measure. Generally, happiness can mean the same thing to most folks and yet, each of us can have a slightly different definition. And, since the time of Ogg and Ugg sitting around the old cave campfire, folk have been weighing in with their take on the meaning of happiness…

Marcus Aurelius said, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

And Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

Those are both pretty much what many would call the Buddhist/Taoist notion of happiness -- which is not the absence of suffering, but rather the ability to find joy and tranquility in the midst of suffering.

Chuang Tzu, the Chinese philosopher from around the 4th century BCE, believed that happiness or the ultimate satisfaction in life came from doing nothing, that is, the practice of wu-wei (not-doing, non-action):

I consider doing nothing to obtain happiness to be true happiness, but ordinary people do not understand this. It’s said that true happiness is to be without happiness, the highest praise is to be without praise. The world can’t make up its mind what is right and what is wrong. And yet doing nothing can determine it. Since supreme happiness is found in keeping the body alive, only by doing nothing can you accomplish it!"

I can get behind doing nothing. I can do nothing professionally!
But seriously, it's not just being a lump in a recliner.

In the United States, the pursuit of happiness is one of humankind’s basic rights. It’s guaranteed by the Constitution. But this is not the greatest goal in life. When we do things 'right' -- we calm our mind and do things in harmony with Nature, we do not need to seek happiness, for we realize that it is already all around us. And yes, there can be harmony... even when all seems to be krapstorms.

Now, down to brass tacks.
The practice of being a Jedi Realist should not be confined only to periods of sitting in meditation or working on course lessons, but should be applied to all the activities of daily life. If we are diligent in cultivating the Jedi 'way', we should find that every day is a good day. Whether a day is good or bad depends on the mind. The key to realizing the full value of what we call Jedi mindfulness is through cultivating a mind of appreciation. Mindfulness should be more than merely having some awareness for the present moment. Awareness by itself is nothing special. If you live in the present moment without any appreciation for it, then you are missing the most important stuff! We should try to discover ways to develop appreciation, not only for the present moment, but mostly importantly, for being alive.

I won’t beat this drum for another eighteen sections.
Go. Embrace the day and gather some appreciation for it, and everything around you. Feel the Earth. Feel Space. Embrace the Living Force. Let it all bring some satisfaction and happiness into your life.
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Johannes (Yoshio) replied the topic: Are We Happy Yet?

Many thanks for sharing this with us Kol Drake.

Lately, again, I’m reading about Stoicism and one of the teachings is to understand and clearly separate the inner and the outer or the things one can influence and those one cannot. I, personally, found this teaching very helpful for reaching a calmer mind and spirit and through that getting to a stage which makes it easier for me to appreciate things and by doing so finding happiness. Here then happiness doesn’t come from nor does it lie in the “big things” but more in the small ones which experience on a daily base but often miss to be aware of them.

So, for me, I can find happiness now easy or at least easier by understanding what is within my area of influence, of action and what is not and then not worry, at least not too much – I’m still a beginner and practitioner in this – about the later one.
As it is said in Kol Drake’s post, happiness is a very personal thing but by finding our own happiness we finally can bring happiness into the world and give it back. So, finding your personal, individual way and understand what really makes one happy is the way to go and not buying into the things others, especially media or officials, tell us which should make us happy. I found, more often than not, that those things actually don’t make me happy.

So, find peace and through it happiness. :meditate

Qui-Gon Jinn: "We cannot control our emotions, but we can decide how we go along with them."
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Sam Thift replied the topic: Are We Happy Yet?

Good read Kol Drake. A very poignant reality check, of sorts.

I am interested in considering one of the many thoughts you presented here...

Kol Drake wrote: In the United States, the pursuit of happiness is one of humankind’s basic rights. It’s guaranteed by the Constitution. But this is not the greatest goal in life.


I wonder whether the Constitutional guarantee (or rather the reference to the pursuit of happiness as an "inalienable right" in the Declaration of Independence), is truly a necessary or even enforceable government position in relation to modern society?

Can a written statement to guarantee "the pursuit of happiness" be acted upon or defended, and is it really even necessary? Can mankind not pursue happiness even in oppressive states and regimes? Surely, happiness may be easier to achieve under our conditions in America, but it seems to be more of an "in the eye of the beholder" issue at times.

What makes me happy and what makes a child growing up in rural Syria happy can be two wildly different things. Despite our drastic differences in "conditions", said child may find true happiness far easier than I might...or may not.

Just curious on developing that thread of thought a tad...if I have any takers?
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Are We Happy Yet?

In the Declaration of Independence there is the right to “the pursuit of happiness.” These days many think this means to affirm a right to chase after whatever makes one subjectively happy. Look closer and you will find the Declaration does not guarantee the right to happiness but, only the right to pursue what makes you happy. That is a HUGE loophole... both in the idea of the legality of what you may be in pursuit of AND how YOUR happy may make many others very unhappy.

History and language. Even today, we need to look at what “happiness” in the public discourse of the time meant. "Back then", happiness often did not simply refer to a subjective emotional state. It also meant prosperity / well-being in the broader sense. It included the right to meet physical needs, but it also included a significant moral and religious dimension.

This got tossed back and forth by our founding fathers. James Madison wrote to James Monroe in 1786. Madison noted that “happiness” cannot simply be identified with meeting people’s interests, but includes a higher reference:

There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation, than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong. Taking the word “interest” as synonymous with “ultimate happiness,” in which sense it is qualified with every necessary moral ingredient, the proposition is no doubt true. But taking it in its popular sense, as referring to the immediate augmentation of property and wealth, nothing can be more false.


More history that laid the groundwork for what was 'happiness' --

The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 affirms that “ the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality, and . . . these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality.

Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 affirms that “ religion, morality, and knowledge” are “essential to the happiness of mankind.

And on and on. Affirmations of these kinds noted above could be multiplied many times from documents and speeches of the time. So... basically the idea of “happiness” in the Declaration could/would/should be understood centrally as a sort of virtuous felicity, perhaps in the sense of Greek eudaimonia , although one refined by Christian sensibilities.

And I am afraid to say -- the Declaration of Independence is not a law in the United States, and never has been.

Rather, the government is required to protect the rights enumerated in the US Constitution, as the ultimate law of the land.

While there are some "natural" rights that are not found in the Constitution but are still provided protection (privacy, for one; bodily integrity, for another), nowhere in the Constitution or American jurisprudence will you find the phrase "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness".

* * * * *

What IS the responsibility of the U.S. government with respect to the pursuit of happiness?

First, the government has a responsibility to ensure that the basic physical needs of all its citizens are met. Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights at least provides a good starting point for a national discussion of basic economic rights: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

By one means of another, the U.S. government must ensure that the basic physical needs of its people are met, if it is to meet its fundamental responsibility for ensuring the rights of all Americans to the pursuit of happiness.

Second, the government must be willing to give priority to the common good of all over the accumulation of wealth by individuals. The most obvious social responsibility of government is to ensure equity and justice for all. Furthermore, if the economy is to function for the common good, it must function within the context of an ethical and just society.

For example, the government cannot ensure positive relationships within families and communities, but it can ensure that families and communities are not subject to economic exploitation. No one should be forced to make a choice between a family and a job. Certainly, adequate time must be devoted to work to justify one's economic compensation, but working people must also be afforded the opportunity to carry on normal personal and family lives.

In addition, communities often lose the ability to function socially or civically when their natural environment and local economy are degraded or destroyed by outside investors seeking access to underexploited economic resources. The U.S. government currently gives priority to individual economic interests over the common interests of communities. The U.S. Congress has the constitutional authority to regulate commerce and thus could act to allow people to preserve the rights of people to protect the sociability and civility of their communities. Sadly, Government seems instead to favor commerce over the pursuit of happiness.

Finally, the unalienable rights encoded in the Constitution provide the moral and ethical compass for both our society and our economy. They define what it required to be an American. Anytime our constitutional rights are compromised in the pursuit of wealth, particularly wealth beyond basic needs, the quality of American life is diminished. Access to more natural and human resources will not enhance our happiness, if constitutional rights are compromised in the process of acquiring them.

The Constitution is a creation of the people, not the government. The Constitution proclaims the right of all to the pursuit of happiness, not wealth. The government has a responsibility to ensure that right.

Now... if only 'the Government' could / would get their collective act together...
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Are We Happy Yet?

And since it's Friday and I can sometimes be a total Sith-ian bonehead...




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Sam Thift replied the topic: Are We Happy Yet?

Quite the studious explanation of that...very appreciated...

I gather the notion of the government's constitutional responsibility to guarantee the "right" to pursue happiness, and not necessarily to offer, enforce, or protect happiness. So long as they are providing the social environment within which its citizens can pursue it.

***

In my efforts, I try to seek happiness in the eternal moment. I try to live life in the NOW, and appreciate anything and everything which that entails. I seek awareness, find comfort in the "little things" of life, and simply enjoy the experience of life itself.

Is this what your original post was trying to impart?

Great topic...tons of ways to develop this into a very deep discussion...
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Johannes (Yoshio) replied the topic: Are We Happy Yet?

Although I’m not Kol Drake and therefore cannot speak for him, for me your post, Sam Thift, impart what Kol Drake’s do say in the long.
Living in the Now, the very moment and seek in it happiness, calmness and the connection with one’s self and others is, for me, what means to be a Jedi Realist and to be able to find happiness in my everyday life. This doesn’t mean that I’m perfect or that one needs to be perfect in this to be able to experience it. As with everything in life, with practice comes experience and with experience the practice becomes easier till we finally reach a point where practice, experience and life becomes one. 

Qui-Gon Jinn: "We cannot control our emotions, but we can decide how we go along with them."
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Sam Thift replied the topic: Are We Happy Yet?

More and more I am finding that what we term "happiness" is not always a result of life circumstances, material things, successful employment, or necessarily even about the people we share our path with.

Instead, it seems to be purely a state of mind, like a conscious condition, where one can be content and thus "happy" regardless of external circumstances or situations.

I have found some of my "happiest" moments or periods in life to be almost completely devoid of anything Hollywood would ever use in the script of an uplifting heartfelt or hero overcoming a challenge sort of flick. It is usually when I am just perfectly content being me and nothing more.
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Jax replied the topic: Re:Are We Happy Yet?

Can we choose happiness? Many times it feels impossible. Yet I think w can. It may require using tools and even finding new ones, but the first step is choosing to be happy. If you don't do that happiness will feel forever outside your grasp.


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Connor replied the topic: Re:Are We Happy Yet?

Here's what I've learned in my recovery group.

Thoughts come from our beliefs. Thoughts lead to emotions. Emotions lead to action.
Action --> Belief/Thought --> Emotion (how we feel) --> Re-Action.

In the Re-Action phase, we can CHOOSE to do something other than what we are programmed to do.
Notice how the only thing we really have control over is the Belief/Thought category. So, we have to change that. We cannot change the action that happens to us, we cannot change how we feel about it either. Unless, we change the belief associated with the triggering event.

This is done by taking our ineffective beliefs and replacing them with healthier ones:
Ineffective: My mom defines my self-worth.
Effective: My mom is responsible for herself, and I am free to define my own self-worth.

Changing those beliefs is the key to solving problems.

House Rules: The only rules are Paradox, Humor, and Change.
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