"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearances, giftedness or skill. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past ... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play out the one string we have and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."
-- Charles Swindoll
I read somewhere that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional, it all happens in your own mind.
I might just frame your post and hang it in my office.
Sure you can try to convince yourself to always be "happy".
"I lost my job, my car and my house - I'm happy"
I can't afford the medical treatment my dog needs to live - I'm happy"
I'm trapped in a paralyzed body and can think but can't communicate - I'm happy"
I can see coming to terms, accepting, and learning to cope with bad situations, but expecting someone to be happy about it is ridiculous.
There was a former Korean war soldier I once met who was talking about his time in the war. He made the comment that the "peasant women" that he would watch doing their laundry in the river were some of the happiest people that he had ever seen. They were always singing and laughing, which he found hard to understand.
I should have posted this in M&B. I was thinking more of the physiology involved.
How could someone not understand this? This is all they knew. The were living the good life as far as they were concerned.
Paris Hilton would not be happy without servants and a private jet and having to work for a lviing. I don't have those things, so not having them doesn't affect my happiness. How could someone not realize that a person can't miss what they don't know? Those women weren't aware of the lifestyle or conveniences that this soldier was aware of so why would he think his personal experiences would affect how they think?
Sorry to be so negative on this but "ten thousand hours" spent meditating. Yeah, I guess I should have given my kids over to foster care, quit my job, let the bank reposess my house and car, shirked all responsibility and run off to Tibet to become a monk. Except...WAIT...I'm female, I can't become a Tibetan monk, I can only become a Buddhist nun, and serve the monks, but never have the status or rights or freedoms that they do. But , hmmmm, he's a man, his meditation doesn't include women in Tibetan Buddhist society. Guess his new book won't mention it either. Hmmmm.
As far as the mental part of it, it's well known that people can talk themselves into severe psychosis, why not a psychotic "happy" state? Voodoo relies on the ability of the victim to scare themselves to death. The mind is very powerful. I just don't think that imposing a false sense of happiness when you truly have problems that need to be dealt with is either reasonable or healthy.
People in the throes of mania often experience a euphoric state.
Which only makes the point that it is a matter of perception. The point is not that one should drop of society and become a monk, the point is that happiness is a skill.
Right now I am going through the daily reports from Tsu: Will my mother live the rest of her life in absolute misery, or will she recover. I could choose to dwell on the pain of what she's enduring and the decisions we are faced with, which is absolutely heartbreaking, or I can refuse to be overwhelmed by it. Tsu and I have to keep reminding each other that "it is what it is". That helps. It helps to accept things for what they are. It is a state of mind.
Sure it's a skill to keep it elevated and applied to numerous things. Wouldn't keeping a positive attitude in the event that something bad happens be better than trying to make yourself feel happy about bad things?
My kitten dies, I'm sad, but I keep a positive attitude that I gave it the best I could while it was alive.
Happy that it died? That's sick.
Exactly, you need to stay positive. You are both doing the best you can. That doesn't mean that you need to pretend to be happy about the situation. You can be comforted knowing you've done your best, you've risen to the crisis, done more than a lot of other people in your shoes. I don't see where happiniess really is appropriate here. Staying positive kept you focused on what needed to be done and keep trying. Happiness would have made you complacent and likely to give up.
You and Tsu have been in a terrible position. You've both done so much more than anyone could have asked of you. Still there is a limit to what you can do. What you accomplished helped so much. In that you can be happy. But what got you through was perserverance, determination, and a strong, positive attitude. Dang, if I ever get sick, I want you two taking care of me.
Thanks for that touch of reality, Evo. I had to laugh at your eloquent rant.
You've got some valid points - one can't miss what one never had; and if you loose your health completely or a loved one or even a loved pet, humans are compelled to feel sad. Yep. That's the reality.
But I don't think that was what Ivan and others have in mind when they say things like "happiness comes from inside."
Here's another fun quote I found:
“Happiness does not consist in having what you want, but wanting what you have.”
~Some old Chinese guy named "Confused" or something like that.
And all this time I thought Sheryl Crow wrote those words.
"I don’t have digital
I don’t have diddly squat
It’s not having what you want
It’s wanting what you’ve got"
~Sheryl of Crow
For example, the point about the Korean War veteran remarking on the happiness of the peasant woman can also be seen as a person that 'wants what she's got'. Doesn't she realize how much more people in America or Europe or Japan or other places have? I think we'd have to be pretty naive to think she was oblivious.
Maybe one of the lessons Paris Hilton needs to learn has to do with not relying on that jet plane to paradise for her adrenaline rush of happiness.
My father is 75 or so. Hell I don't know for sure. But he's said only half jokingly in the past, "When I die, I'd like everyone to have a party for me; to celebrate the life I had." I may just take him up on that offer.
There is only one thing that can make you happy, sad, angry or any emotion you can name. That thing is YOU. How you react to outside stimulus is a choice you make. The choice will be made either consciously or unconsciously. Those who make the choice unconsciously tend to blame the event for that emotion. Those who are aware, and in tune with, their emotions can experience the emotions without being caught up in the storm.
These are all very Buddist type concepts.. Being aware of emotions without letting them rule your life is not easy but can be done.
Happness is your choice. Events happen that cause legitmate unhappy feelings, this is called life. How you react to these legitmate feelings is your choice
Oh, my oh my, You raise some very ugly memories with this post.
I lost my first wife to Buddist meditation. She chose meditation over our marriage.
Well, I might not be quite as negative as Evo, but it seems that it would be pretty easy to be "happy" if you ignored all the worries and concerns of life and just spent all your time meditating. If you want to do more than sit around all day humming (or whatever people do when they meditate), then there are worries and stresses that go with it. As the old saying goes, "Ignorance is bliss."
Seriously now, who here would be happy with a life of chanting and prayer? I think the idea that this would be easy or automatic ignores issues such as the utter boredom, the lack of challenge, the lack of input and self expression, or even worse, God forbid, a world that has no need for problem sovling! I would go stark raving mad.
What I find intersting is the idea that happiness might be enhanced through the use of these techniques. Why? What is the physiology? Could the same results be obtain using other methods? Is this psychological, or does this happen purely as a function of some stimulus and chemistry? And for that matter, is there such as thing as a "psychological" issue that is not ultimately physiological? What do we know about the source of happiness?
The goal is realization. That is the state of being where you can experience the emotions of life without being caught up in them. The analogy was to see your emotions as a river flowing past. The non realized person is carried by the current of their emotions with no control, while the realized person is standing on the bank of the river watching the emotions flow past, you feel them but remain aware that they are just passing emotions and do not have to control your actions. So the goal would be to experience your emotions while remaining in control of your reactions to the emotions.
To attain this enlightened state all you need do is chant a few hundred thousand mantras at least that is what my ex believed. She decided that she needed to get there quick so was spending 4-8hrs per day chanting. This with myself and our 2 sons (4 and 6 at that time) expecting her to be a part of the family. I felt she simply sat around thinking about all of our problems while doing nothing concrete to deal with them. This amount of contemplation with no action can elevate mole hills into mountains. I believe that this was a huge contributor to the end of our marriage.
I believe that it is possible to live in a state of mind where you can feel and experience the joys and sorrows of life without being dashed about as a chip in the waves. I also believe that with this level of understanding comes peace and contentment.
I would too, but I'm also not running off to Tibet to meditate day and night. But, remember that there are people who are totally content to not problem solve, and who think happiness comes from sitting around and doing nothing. They're the people who can sit on the couch all night and watch TV and nothing else, and think that's a great way to spend the evening. Or, they're the people who can go sit in a nail salon and just let someone else give them a manicure while they sit around chit chatting about the most pointless and mundane things (the ONE time in my life I got a manicure...enforced by the bride-to-be for whom I agreed to be a bridesmaid...I thought I was going to use my freshly painted nails to gouge someone's eyes out if I got any more bored; it was a painfully boring experience to me, but there are people who do this religiously every month and think it's the most relaxing, enjoyable highlight of the month). There are a lot of people who find happiness in having no challenges or problems to deal with. I wouldn't. But, I'm already pretty happy. Facing challenges in the lab, and spending my days in the classroom teaching others make me happy. Getting to divide my research time between the lab and a farm makes me happy. Sitting here throwing a ball for the cat while posting on PF makes me happy. As was stated above, it's all about attitude. If we spend all our time pining for what we don't have instead of appreciating what we do have, it's harder to be happy than if we look at everything we do have and realize how good it really is. Sometimes I wonder if it comes from something as simple as having an unspoiled childhood. I never expected things to just be handed to me, so don't find myself dissatisfied if they aren't, and can instead enjoy when I accomplish things on my own.
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