Friday, February 16, 2007

On Happiness and Saints

Another week draws to an end. Our profession really allows for a glimpse into the whole range of human potential and amazing diversity of personalities, and the opportunity to be a learning bystander, observing how people interact with life and change or are changed by their personal sets of struggles and triumphs.

Was thumbing through an interesting new book at the library the other day. Don't recall the exact title, but the author had investigated many of the major religions of the world and analyzed photo credit
the ideas each one had about happiness. The most memorable part
was an anecdote (in the Jewish chapter) about a man who had survived
Auschwitz, who still vivedly remembers that, miserable as living conditions were during that time, in a place that may be one of the closest version of hell on Earth, there were still people at that concentration camp who went around cheering up their co-inhabitants, and giving away their meager food rations. Saints are truly everywhere.

And so perhaps true happiness has little to do with the external world. External conditions can be completely out of our control, and on a daily basis, we may run into troubles that we struggle with. Our bodies, and their diseases, can be out of our control (cancers, autoimmune diseases), and can create a lot of misery. But we forget that our minds are something that no one else can control, unless we let them. That our body and how the external world affects us, are not what we truly are.

Happiness cannot, must not, depend on having a good day, or being healthy, or being loved. If we believe that these external, constantly changing factors, have the power to dictate our happiness, we grant them a power they should not have, and give up the possibility of continued happiness. We lose the opportunity for peace of mind.

Perhaps happiness is a conscious decision for the mind to stay its course, regardless of whether the seas are calm or in the never-ending night of the fiercest storm. That we should recognize outside factors for what they are, and not allow them to affect the mind. That no matter how pleasant or unpleasant our external environments are, we recognize that they are nothing but a temporary change in scenery, and as such, hold no power over the well-being of the mind.

That this is possible is shocking, inspiring, almost frightening. But it must be possible, because people have done it in the past, and others do it today.

On a lighter note, wanted to share some inspiring pictures with everyone:
There's nothing like watching an elderly couple hold hands as they cross the street. (Of course, we're probably too far away to hear them bickering as they walk! Just kidding!!) photo credit

Nothing like a stroll on the beach, a nice sunset, and time to appreciate the gulls hanging in the credit

Learn from the birds: love, cherish, and take care of each other. photo credit

And finally, when you have a day like this one:

Just remember...
This too, shall pass...

Be well!


Anonymous Moof said...

Thank you for this post ... I think you wrote it just for me to read.

You have some beautiful gems of wisdom - thank you for sharing them. You never know when someone will happen upon them at exactly the right moment.

6:49 AM  

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