"Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave."
from 'A Psalm of Life' by Lognfellow
"That which does not kill us, will probably try harder next time." -- Somebody
Anyone who does not cringe at the pain and suffering of life may be ignoring reality and avoiding empathy. To put it in the real terms of an example, a mother duck around our back yard lake had over a dozen ducklings. By the second or third day of their little lives only a few were left. Then a few days later none were left. Anyone could see she was devastated; I swear she was crying. It's hard to be happy in a world where young, innocent beings suffer and die horribly all around us. Yet it it is the way of things.
To use a much less sad example, I am constantly weeding out optimistic little elm and maple seedlings from my yard. Each of them (I anthropomorphize!) would love to become a tree, yet of the millions of tiny little lives that spring up every year, most perish. How sad that there cannot be room for each of them.
but one allows circumstances to hold sway with respect to attitude about circumstances.
This is a true statement. But let's recognize that in discussing happiness or optimism or being miserable, we are discussing emotions (feelings). Many do not realize that emotions are uncontrollable. They are determined by one's thoughts and beliefs. And as it turns out, you can control your thoughts and beliefs.
It's the Think-->Feel-->Act Progression. What you think (or believe) determines how you feel. How you feel determines what you do. That's how two people can react differently to the same experience. As Lawrence correctly observes, it's a matter of attitude or perspective.
That said, the notion that all experiences can be met with happiness is utopian, for it denies the existence of sadness, frustration, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, etc. and concludes they are unnecessary emotions. Death of a loved one is not a happy experience. Those who endured the Holocaust did not and could not experience happiness, nor should they have. Sadness is appropriate for certain situations (even for dead ducks, apparently) as much as gladness is for others. If my wife were to be murdered before my eyes, the statment "it is entirely within the human being to be happy no matter the circumstances" is clearly wrong. What would be entirely within me would be unspeakable horror and grief, and that would be appropriate.
Were there no negative expereiences in life, there would also be no experiences of relief, salvation, rescue, safety, acceptance, security, significance, etc. Many of the blessings in life are contingent upon relief from pain and suffering, both of which are real and appropriate.
It is now clear to me why this forum has no "Correct Answer" option.
First of all, feelings and emotions are not the same...we feel things, like premonitions, that are not emotions. We might get emotional over the premonition, but that's different.
Second, it isn't utopian concerning happiness. It's an inborn state, one that, like love, can be overrun by other factors, but,like love, is consistently present. All one needs to do is remove the block.
I guess what I am saying is that neither happiness or love exist in duality mode. They are like rivers, you can dam the river, but once the dam is removed, the rush of either can sometimes be overwhelming. And, of course, emotions play their part.
The lack of this sort of recognition in Western thought is a huge Achilles heel in western living. We search for happiness rather than research the block. Hey! Good for business! Unhappy? Go shopping!
So, what's the problem? Why doesn't it work? Why do we always have to go shopping or some such manipulative effort? Why doesn't the "happiness" (which isn't really happiness, it's excitement, thrills) last. One reason I included in parentheses. But the big one is expectations.
In matters of love, for instance, expectations run rampant. You meet someone. She is dressed and made up to be attractive. It worked. Now what? OMG! she thinks. I gotta look good for him! I can't let him see me like this! and so on. You, the man, run similar thoughts. I have to live up to certain expectations generated by____(fill in the blanks). What a mess!
What to do? If I may suggest, begin by organizing things into two categories; Needs and Wants. Food, shelter, water etc are needs. All the rest are wants. Now, reclassify the Wants into Preferences. Bingo!
I need a new car gets to be I prefer anew car. I need to go shopping changes to I prefer to go shopping. And so on.
It really, really works. Every time I get into a tizzy over some event or another, the resolution lies in making that determination. I am pissed and agitated because I perceive an event as a need.
The license plate holder that illustrates this profoundly is the one that says "I'd rather be ....). No, not really. If true you would rather be fishing, you would be fishing. But to say I prefer to be fishing, well, now I can be at peace with going to work instead, and fishing will happen. The glow of happiness is freed up once more.
So, don't pursue happiness. You already have it. Rather, examine your blocks and drop them, stating with expectations.
So how does preferences clear up the love mess mentioned above? Simply by seeing that while having a person in one's life may rise to the level of a need (Maybe!) it doesn't have to be that particular one. A bit callous, maybe, but reasonable. And if both people can go there, the connection may well be strengthened rather than defeated. The real person shows up fully. For better or for worse, as the vows proclaim.
But then, what do I know?
Were there no negative experiences in life, there would also be no experiences of relief, salvation, rescue, safety, acceptance, security, significance, etc. Many of the blessings in life are contingent upon relief from pain and suffering, both of which are real and appropriate.
Or, as Beavis & Butthead apparently put it "If things didn't suck, then things couldn't be cool!"
(I've never watched, but a friend quoted.)
Blessings are the expectation element, writ large by kicking the blessings and rewards into the afterlife, which is neither provable or falsifieable by human methods.
That is such a non-starter for me.
Restating "If things didn't suck, then things couldn't be cool!":
Q: Why are you beating your head against the wall?
A: Because it feels so good when I stop!
He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know.
- Lao Tzu
You don't say!
Lao Tzu's statement has a zen-like quality. You can only speak in the present, but knowledge has it's roots in the past and projects into the future. As you speak, the spoken words fade into the past,and the unspoken ones are in the future.
Words name things. The mind is capable of experiencing fully without naming anything. But then we cannot communicate those experiences verbally without words. Since words lead to definitions, and we define by both inclusion and exclusion, (this and not that) can speaking ever communicate the entirety of an experience?
We are back to Lao Tzu.
Now, if we only had some crepuscular rays...
They also "rain and snow on everyone... "
So THAT's the technical name for that special effect. Beats "inspiratinal light beams coming from above". Another obscure word I can use to annoy/delight people with.
(I have a friend who, like me, just likes words for their sound, obscurity or just general cromulence. )
" If I reprehend any thing in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!"
Learn from mistakes of others, because you will not live that much to make it all yourself - unknown.
I wonder if illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup? - Jerry Seinfield quotes
-Poet Rudyard Kipling
It's easy to grin
When your ship comes in
And you've got the stock market beat.
But the man worthwhile,
Is the man who can smile,
When his shorts aren't too tight in the seat.
Judge Smails - Caddyshack
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