Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Makes Us Happy?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and I started to hi-jack Inklings comment section to vent it all, but decided to do it properly on my own blog. The Book of Mormon has a scripture that says, in part, "...Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness." Alma 41:10 I have been thinking about this scripture alot lately.

The world teaches that momentary pleasure is what brings happiness. The feelings a person gets from drugs, or the excitement from illicit sex, or thrill of lawbreaking are "highs". Those are a form of pleasure, but pleasure isn't necessarily happiness. Happiness is a contentment, not a continual high. Happiness comes from peace. A person can be very poor, without the comforts of life, and still be happy. But a person with a guilty conscience can never be happy. The chinese have a saying that goes, "A quiet conscience sleeps in thunder." If we want a happy life, we need to lead a good life.

Some people think money will make them happy. My grandmother was a very humble person, and didn't have much money. She made do with what she had, or was given. I seriously doubt if she ever bought clothes from a store. That just wasn't her nature. She was very careful with her money, and wasn't concerned about fashion or decorating. She had lived through the depression, so was happy to just have her needs met. She was never rich as to things of this world, but she was happy.

Momentary pleasures are not lasting happiness. A person might enjoy an ice cream cone while they are eating it, but will the happiness last for the rest of the week? In my experience, that kind of pleasure only lasts while you are eating the ice cream. The same goes for most things that people pursue. My husband was listening to a radio interview a few days before Valentine's day. He said that the person being interviewed said that the things that give us long lasting pleasure aren't things at all. He said that if a person wanted to give a valentines gift that would be most meaningful, they should give one that was an experience, not a tangible object. He rightly said that we get more pleasure from memories of time spent together than from things we are given. He suggested that instead of buying a stuffed animal for a loved one on Valentine's Day, a better gift would be to take them out to dinner and spend time talking. True happiness comes from what we do, not from what we own.


Erin said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I have had similar feelings on the subject for a very long time. However, it's still hard to tell myself I don't NEED things. :)

Christina Bess said...

Yes, I agree. There certainly is no better memory to have that of time spent with a loved one. Not everyone gets that and I wish more people did.

Ramana Rajgopaul said...

A thoughtful and a beautiful post Delirious. Let me just add my belief here which may make sense to you.

I believe that our essential nature is happiness. We cover this with conditioning. So much so that it is now legitimate to say that the pursuit of happiness is a right. You cannot pursue happiness. You can pursue something that can give you momentary happiness. If you want lasting happiness, the way to go about it is to destroy the conditioning.

Delirious said...

I think that is a very good view Ramana. It's true that the world, and we ourselves, condition us to think that happiness can only be achieved through things such as success, or through buying things, or looking a certain way. I have a relative who will never be happy because she has a black and white view of life. Reality can never meet up to her expectations. She is one of the most miserable people I know.

Othersideblue said...

Yes Delirious are right, one can never be happy with a guilty conscience.

Moreover i can't be happy if i offend somebody or if i break someone's heart..

My goal nowadays is to bring happiness to somebody's heart every single day and i feel satisfied at the end of each day when i succeed; it might even be sometimes a simple hello and a spreading radiant smile when i meet a passer by.

I think every good deed reflects back and radiates and lights up our being,
Happiness is not a thing to seek or gain.

Dee Ice Hole said...

HMMMM---I come from the school that has been taught that no good deed should go unpunished.

Looney said...

I just ran across Augustine's comment on happiness:

"But the actual possession of the happiness of this life, without the hope of what is beyond, is but a false happiness and profound misery. For the true blessings of the soul are not now enjoyed; for that is no true wisdom which does not direct all its prudent observations, manly actions, virtuous self-restraint, and just arrangements, to that end in which God shall be all and all in a secure eternity and perfect peace."

- City of God, XIX.20