How to Be Happy

One of the problems that naturally occurs when a light is shone on pain and suffering is that those who are looking at this picture are overwhelmed by pity.  This might seem like a good outcome – surely if we are sorry for someone we’ll try to help?  Well the answer to that is not a definite ‘yes’.  Sometimes when we feel sorry for people we also feel angry, or resentful or superior or confused.  We wonder how this can happen and why they can’t help themselves just like we have to do and if they have some inherent shortcoming that precludes them from building a wholesome and sustaining life for themselves…

A much better angle is to approach everything from a belief in oneness.  We are not a collection of different creations inhabiting a shrinking planet.  We are one human family.  We are all the same.  I am a Western woman, if I was faced with death or torture or injury or starvation there would no substantial difference between how I might feel and how a woman – or man – in Africa or China or India might feel.  The same is true about how I feel about my children, my life, my hopes and fears, the people I love…every person who ever lived – and who is alive now and in the future – has more in common than they have differences.

If you had a member of your family who was in trouble on the other side of the world what might you do?  Well, you’d probably do everything necessary to help – including expecting them to act properly and honourably and helping them to be able to be fully, functional, independent individuals – just like yourself.

The place to start is to educate ourselves in our similarities.  This is not just a Western task.  I imagine most African’s view of Westerners is based on Hollywood movies and, therefore, very far away from the reality of life in Europe or America.  We all need this education.

So let’s start with what we might look like when we’re being happy…

 

24 Comments

  1. Its already underway. As the internet expands, so does an increasing number of the world’s population become exposed–for the first time in history–to a world that’s no longer defined, nor entirely under the control (culturally and otherwise) of a locally-biased mindset. Perhaps the most important element in this transformation will be the growing transition (which is just now beginning) from local to an internet-based monopoly in the field of education. The best, brightest, and most ‘engaging’ teachers will soon be offering their global classrooms, on every subject, at every level, to anyone and everyone across the globe who has access to the net and a desire to learn. Language barriers are coming down rapidly as the technology of real-time translation continues to evolve (see an example in the opening scene of Microsoft’s “Sustainability” video for example). The albeit very confused and politically messy ‘Arab Spring’ is just a tiny prelude of what’s to come as access to the internet continues to expand. So hang on to your hat…’cause what you’re hoping for is happening at this very moment. And it will continue to grow regardless of what ‘those in power’ might try to do to stop it. As long as internet connectivity continues to expand, there will be a continuing ’rounding’ of the globe…and resultant sense of connectivity…that will eventually (and I think inevitably) lead to a fulfilling of your wish.

    Unless, of course, someone in the meantime unleashes a sequence of events that crashes the (increasingly fragile) global economy, and the continued growth of the internet along with it. In which case you can stop worrying about globalization of the human spirit, and begin worrying instead about what you’ve got stocked away (or not) in your pantry. (He says, as he starts his car and speeds away to the grocery store…) 😉

    1. I think what you are saying is true but sometimes we see things without really seeing – if that makes sense. We see people from other places but because we are looking through a conceptual lens that has trained us to believe they are different to us, we see only the differences – because of course they are there. If simple proximity and contact were enough then it’d be obvious that women were pretty similar to men and there’d be no problems for women in the world. It’s a question of making sure the ‘lens’ we’re using has had a bit of thought put into it’s design so that we can appropriately adjust it when necessary and thereby see how similar we all really are and not just keep looking through our pre-formed ideas.

      As for the disaster scenario – I agree with that as well but as we say in Ireland – sure, what can you do, hah – there’s no point in worrying about it! Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    1. I second that! You really have such a remarkeable view on the world and all of us living on it. I enjoy listening to you and always look forward for posts of yours, because I know they will make a difference for me – and this was no exception. 🙂

  2. I’m struggling to make ends meet, attend school for a better future, and provide for and raise two boys with the help of my wife. Sometimes I get discouraged, but when I look at all I have that is non-material: the love of my kids and wife, living in the country on my families 125 year-old farm, having the right to own land, and the freedoms that are theoretically accorded to us in this country, I am truly grateful.

    The road to a better world lies within each of us. We must explore our inner and outter environs and make the choices that lead to truth, life, and happiness, and not bury our heads in the sand. Days turn into weeks easily, so we must build into our inner lives these habbits and explorations. We must come to know ourselves intimately, and learn to accentuate our positive encounters with each other in order to foster compassion and good will. We must be vigilent for the emotions that are destructive to ourselves and others, and not take delight in belittling those of lesser understanding.

    We must begin to see ourselves as a single people on a single, fragile planet. Most people throught the world have a tremendous capacity for compassion and understanding, and would see humanity solve some of our age old problems of equality, wealth distribution, quality of life, and finding true contentment and happiness in life. Try to treat each encounter with one another as a chance to change the world in a positive way, one person at a time.
    john pontious

    1. Thanks so much for the comprehensive comment. You describe the process so well – thanks a lot I really appreciate it and it is clear that you are – in spite of the struggles – a lucky man – but your wife and children are also lucky to have you! Thanks again.

  3. Not quite sure where to begin except to say how much I agree with and appreciate this. I have fallen a bit behind in my reading lately and I am very glad I chose this post to start with. The same goes for Mr. Lawson’s comment.

    [cut – paste]

    Ok, I have gotten so carried away in responding to your post I realized my response had become longer than your post itself! The cut – paste brackets represents the two pages I just cut and pasted into a word document. What can I say, you inspire me. I decided to cut out my ramblings and turn them into a post on my blog so that I don’t burden your readers or usurp your blog. Thanks as always for taking the time to write and share.

  4. I look forward to the day when we treat each other with love and respect… Frankly, I think Africans have a better understanding of Westerners than they do of us… 🙂

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