Thursday, July 2, 2015

Finding Happiness

  Roger Cohen commented on Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule”- the notion that this is the time required for the acquisition of perfected expertise in a particular field -and that in today’s get it now society, grind is underappreciated. The writer thought that duty was more than likely related to happiness. He also thought that life was not always revelatory. He included by saying if you want to be happy mow the lawn; collect the dead leaves; paint the room, do the dishes or get a job. Make sure to persist and endure, day after day.  Money, fame, peer pressure, parental expectations, are simply distractions and may get in the way and not solve the happiness problem. He quoted Rilke’s notion that companionship is a strengthening of two neighboring solitudes-you have to solve the conundrum of your solitude .Cohen was also not convinced that the notion of living your dream solves the problem either. He illustrated the punishment that was handed out to the Greek mythical figure Sisyphus, by the gods-he was with the task of pushing a boulder up the hill and repeating the task through all eternity. Remember the large stone rolled down again and again. Could this arduous task be reframed and looked at not as being a source of despair but maybe the beginning of happiness, he questioned?

Roger Cohen quoted a passage from Albert Camus’s book “The Plague.” Bernard the doctor at the center of the novel, battles pestilence, day after day. And that the whole thing is not about heroism, but about decency and that the only way to fight the plague is with decency. Cohen concluded with the notion that decency consists of doing his job and that he didn’t think he had any taste for heroism or sainthood. He just wanted to be a man, and concluded it’s in the everyday task at hand were happiness lurks.

I agree that many are looking for happiness, and likely don’t know where to find it. Likely, it is idiosyncratic in nature and everyone might have their own definition. But I’ll wager that many believe they’re on their way to happiness but they are simply deceiving themselves and live an illusionary life. I just received a phone call from a friend that I met, but 18 years ago, in a Ride and Tie competition. At that time he was 34 years of age and involved in the business world, making money for him and his new family. He got involved in real estate, land acquisition, while the market was great. He built an energy-efficient straw bale home and was exploring his self in a variety of ways. He threw great parties and was still searching through the use of drugs and non-drugs alike.

The market crashed, my dear friend  became depressed and went through a psychological crisis. Coming out of that, he started downsizing and became involved in a superfood retail business. During the years, he traveled all over the world and presented his kids with unusual experiences. Homeschooling with this family was not traditional in any way.

Jerome  is now 52 years of age and still evolving. One might say that he has been pushing that rock up the hill over and over again, or that he has not put in his 10,000 hours as of yet. He certainly is not mowing the lawn and finding happiness that way. However, he is connected to his wife and family and can be characterized as being a decent, loving human being. Has he found happiness, maybe, or maybe not?

Perhaps, happiness is not an inalienable right per the framers of the Constitution. Maybe the key to life relates to “Know Thyself.” The more self-awareness of conscious and unconscious motivations might be the tool for navigating one’s life space. It’s important to see reality and not get caught up in the illusions, distractions of an industrial society that’s so economically driven. There are certainly many illusions, as well as distractions that go on day-to-day. We are given and fed so much meaningless and trite information. Just watch a news program where they show you a picture, and then get a so-called “expert” to tell you what’s in the picture. It’s important to use your own brain and figure as many things out for yourself as you can.

Lifespan is about many things, and developmental stages present different challenges and tasks. For me, know thyself is a beginning step. Additionally, making decisions, having and achieving goals, making mistakes are an important part of the life process. I believe my aunt Eva was correct when she said something to the effect “when you have your health, you have it all.” My goals and decision making are related to my philosophy. I pursue health as opposed to the pursuit of happiness. Find your step, you’ll know the way. 

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