“Happiness is actually an art of living, which is in us.” — unknown
I see two sides to this statement. One of acceptance and one of resistance. On the acceptance side, there is optimism and finding flow. On the resistance side is this idea of a conspiracy of leading the masses into being satisfied with the status quo of unnatural or unfair conditions.
I sort of realize that the situation is not as dire as that last statement makes it seem. It is, after all, just one motivational phrase amidst a great volume of motivational phrases. As it can be interpreted differently, so can it be applied differently — crises averted, as I will explain later on.
I remember when I lived my life in flow. For a brief span of time, it was a glory to behold. I woke up early, looked at my to-do list, finished chores, read, wrote, worked on my hobbies, exercised, crossed items off my to-do list, and planned for the next day. I was happy because I was living life how I wanted, and the above phrase applied to what I was doing.
It truly was an art. I took advice from different self-help resources — whatever resonated with me and my lifestyle — and applied it to my life and its happenings. I tackled my procrastination, extreme shyness, and writer’s block. I lost weight, accomplished goals, and reacquainted myself with old friends. Then, it all came crashing down, and I was completely knocked off my feet, but that is another story.
As for optimism, I see myself as an optimist. Things are not so bad to me. I look around at the world and see beauty. I give people the benefit of the doubt. That doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen, it just means that life is not all doom and gloom. Is that happiness? It can certainly look like it from the outside looking in, I imagine, because when I see pessimists, it seems like they make more trouble for themselves than it’s worth. That is my opinion on what I see, and I won’t take it back. If you are a pessimist and care to enlighten me, that is your prerogative.
There are some who say that happiness is fleeting, and in the case of optimism vs pessimism, that is certainly true, because happiness can traverse either side. It can also traverse between the sides of rich and poor. I’m sure you’ve heard that those in poverty can be some of the happiest people around, and those surrounded by riches still find life lacking. If what separates the two is an art form, then I’d certainly like to learn those secrets and pass them on.
Now for the stench of conspiracy. It is held in the words after the comma, “which is in us.” This can be interpreted two ways, and they both have to do with potential. Everyone has the potential for happiness, is the claim. If you look at that you can see possibility or exclusivity. If you are having a hard time reaching your potential, then something must be wrong with you, right? You must be broken. Another aspect of this is taking responsibility away from your environment and placing it all in your hands. Again, if you’re having a hard time reaching happiness, then there must be something wrong with you. It’s not the troubles you face or the difficult people you encounter.
Also, you can’t be happy all the time. It is impossible. Life is full of trials that cannot be avoided, nor should they be avoided, because growth occurs through adversity. There are things we simply cannot control. Much of the universe is still a mystery to us. Its
This is the lesson I would hope you take with you: be discriminatory. Take the advice that helps you, not breaks you down. If it hinders your growth, or doesn’t leave you feeling good about your options, next steps, and future, then it needs to be redefined. Just because a phrase carries with it an air of authority, does not make it true or the last word.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.
All the best,