Thoughts on Happiness
“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” ~ Morrie Schwartz
Last week, I wrote a post about the Happiness Movie. I loved the comments that were left by Kerri and Stephanie. Kerri mentioned a movie that will be on my list of movies to watch called Lost Boys of Sudan. She said that the boys in the movie came from Sudan to the States for a better life, but they ended up missing the sense of community they had back home in Sudan. Stephanie mentioned the lack of community in the States as being at the core of the unhappiness of many people.
This thing called community seems to play a big part in our sense of well-being and happiness. I just read a newspaper article about how the lack of community in big cities, especially in lower income neighborhoods, is shown in research to play a part in the development of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia for a person that is already at risk due to genetics.
There’s a part of me that loves exploring the harder questions in life and the question of happiness is one of them. ~
I tend to think that living a happy life involves practicing gratitude, even (or especially) when it doesn’t come easily.
I think it involves spending your time doing things that involve your interests, your passions, your strengths.
I think it involves choosing your response consciously even when it would be easy to react negatively to something that comes your way.
I think it involves celebration.
I think it involves having a sense of purpose and a belief in God, or at least something bigger than yourself.
I think it involves paying attention to life and noticing the small touches of grace in it, even on days where nothing seems to go your way.
And I do truly believe that we were made to live in relationship with one another, that a large part of our happiness is based on caring deeply for others and being cared for in return. ~
It’s so important to remember that true happiness really comes from immaterial things. Sure, it’s great to have nice things and important to create the best life you can within your means. But nothing will feel right if the immaterial things that really matter aren’t there.
Especially today, on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, I feel drawn to reflect on this. Shortly after that day, people were talking about how it brought them back to what really mattered in life. Yet, as a society we’ve kept spending beyond our means, seemingly hoping that somehow more things will make us happy.
This morning, I was writing in my gratitude journal. Sometimes I include material things in my gratitude list because I really am grateful for what I have. Today, though, I intentionally only included immaterial things. Here’s my list:
I am grateful
for love and life ~ for those I love, for every day we are given together
for compassion ~ for the ability we human beings have to care deeply about the pain of another
for beauty ~ for everything that transports me, even if it’s just for a moment, and reminds me of a higher purpose
for kindness ~ for true friendliness and generosity of spirit that goes beyond the surface and allows another human being to feel seen, heard and cared for
for the ability to feel ~ for both positive and negative emotions, for the ability to be present to this life I’ve been given