What is the ‘secret of happiness’, and How do you get it?
Hap means luck in Middle English, so I guess that you’re ‘lucky’ if you have it. But I once constated the following thought, and I could be wrong, that “He’s a happy man, he makes his luck” I think I thought that there was something I had to do to deserve happiness; that some payment had to be made and then later, happiness would be my reward. And I’m still not sure that’s not true. But how about being happy now? Why not just be happy, don’t worry, like the Jamaican song? “Be happy… don’ worry…”
Simplify, as they did in El Dorado…
‘we never pray,’ said this good and venerable old man,
‘we have nothing to ask of God since he has given us everything we need.’
‘but we thank him unceasingly.’ Candide, by Voltaire (1694-1778
Please, bear with me now, since I’m about to get very complicated.
In a sense we are all ‘idiots’ whose errors are personal and repetitive. Our unhappines
revolves around definite passions which limit our perceptions and possibilities on the full scale of ‘being’.
Why should we be driven by fear or pain to harangue the heavens with hopeless cries bemoaning our sad fate and voicing only discontent?
It is childish to cry for help when we’ve been given brains and means to ‘take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.’ as Shakespeare says with Hamlet’s voice. Is it ‘nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’?
I think not.
Whoever takes himself in hand and with sincere efforts, perseveres to solve the puzzle of his case, and his place in this world gains unseen allies and the acquiescence of a ‘higher power’ not as a gift or grace but as a birthright of any soul which is to reach that lightness of being which brings self-control.
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Plato quoting Socrates… can be countered by
“My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?” ~ Charles M Schulz
Somewhere between those two thoughts there exist a range of meanings all true in their own right but which only define aspects of happiness. So it’s best to consider the subject as one which has it’s own scale. I have taken some quotations from great and wise and sometimes anonymous personalities and you might enjoy putting them in order of importance. Hint: from 1 to 10 from the transitory to the universal ‘greatest good’.
“Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere wholeheartedly, one-directionally, without regret or reservation.” ~ William H. Sheldon
“Happiness is nothing more than health and a poor memory.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
“The human spirit needs to accomplish, to achieve, to triumph to be happy.” ~ Ben Stein
“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll
“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
“True happiness is…to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.” ~ Seneca
“Where fear is, happiness is not” ~ Seneca
“Happiness is the object and design of our existence, and will be the end thereof; pursue the path that leads to it.” ~ Joseph Smith Jr.
“This is the true joy of life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
“To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright.”
Walter Benjamin, German critic, Philosopher (1892-1940)
“Make someone happy, make just one someone happy” some song.
The greatest happiness is to provide some happiness for others, and to share in their joy. Or, to help them on their journey and marvel at their progress.” Anonymous.
After experience had taught me that all things which frequently take place in ordinary life are vain and futile, and when I saw that all the things I feared, and which feared me, had nothing good or bad in them save in so far as the mind was affected by them; I determined at last to inquire whether there was anything which might be truly good, and able to communicate its goodness, and by which the mind might be affected to the exclusion of all other things; I determined, I say, to inquire whether I might discover and attain the faculty of enjoying throughout eternity continual supreme happiness. . . .
The Improvement of the Intellect, Spinoza
By definition, being enlightened is a fully evolved way of living. It is perfect freedom – – a freedom so total it cannot be lost even in relationships. It is perfect security, certain of its reality, perfection, and eternal bliss – – it is the goal in the quest for happiness.
Beauty for some provides escape,
Who gain a happiness in eyeing
The gorgeous buttocks of the ape
Or Autumn sunsets exquisitely dying.
Aldous Huxley (1894–1963), British author. Ninth Philosopher’s Song.
‘You do not know what well-being is, because you have never experienced it,’ he said.
… He said that the only thing I knew how to seek was a sense of disorientation, ill-being, and confusion. He laughed mockingly and assured me that in order to accomplish the feat of making myself miserable I had to work in a most intense fashion, and that is was absurd I had never realized I could work just the same in making myself complete and strong.
‘The trick is in what one emphasizes,’ he said. ‘We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.’
— Don Juan, Journey to Ixtlan, by Carlos Castaneda.
“We are wont to condemn self-love; but what we really mean to condemn is contrary to self-love. It is that mixture of selfishness and self-hate that permanently pursues us, that prevents us from loving others, and that prohibits us from losing ourselves in the love with which we are loved eternally. He who is able to love himself is able to love others also; he who has learned to overcome self-contempt has overcome his contempt for others.” > > – Paul Tillich
“He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise”. ~ William Blake
“So much sadness exists in the world that we are all under obligation to contribute as much joy as lies within our powers.” ~ John Sutherland Bonnell
“If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” ~ Tallulah Bankhead
“The secret of happiness is something to do.” ~ John Burroughs
“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ~ H. Jackson Brown (Life’s Little Instruction Calendar, (1999)
“It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day to day basis.” ~ Margaret Bonnano
“Growth itself contains the germ of happiness.” ~ Pearl S. Buck
“Everyday happiness means getting up in the morning, and you can’t wait to finish your breakfast. You can’t wait to do your exercises. You can’t wait to put on your clothes. You can’t wait to get out–and you can’t wait to come home, because the soup is hot.” ~ George Burns
“There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness.” ~ Countess of Blessington
“True love is eternal, infinite, and always like itself. It is equal and pure, without violent demonstrations: it is seen with white hairs and is always young in the heart.” ~ Balzac (1799-1850)
“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice.” ~ W.J. Bryan
“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.” ~ Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)
Suppression of Desire leads to extinction of suffering. ~ Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)
“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.” ~ Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), from The Dhammapada
“To be able to find joy in another’s joy, that is the secret of happiness.” ~ George Bernanos
“Happiness includes chiefly the idea of satisfaction after full honest effort. No one can possibly be satisfied and no one can be happy who feels that in some paramount affairs he failed to take up the challenge of life.” ~ Arnold Bennett
“Happiness is the real sense of fulfillment that comes from hard work.” ~ Joseph Barbara (in Success Secrets of Super Achievers by Stovall)
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” ~ Victor Borge
“Nobody ever died of laughter.” ~ Max Beerbohm
“Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.” ~ Mildred Barthel
“When one is happy there is no time to be fatigued; being happy engrosses the whole attention.” ~ Edward Frederic Benson
“The world’s literature and folklore are full of stories that point out how futile it can be to seek happiness. Rather, happiness is a blessing that comes to you as you go along; a treasure that you incidentally find.” ~ Louis Binstock
“It is the paradox of life that the way to miss pleasure is to seek it first. The very first condition of lasting happiness is that a life should be full of purpose, aiming at something outside self.” ~ Hugo Black
“The truth is that all of us attain the greatest success and happiness possible in this life whenever we use our native capacities to their greatest extent.” ~ Smiley Blanton
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world. Someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” ~ Tom Bodett
“We all want to be happy, and we’re all going to die. You might say those are the only two unchallengeably true facts that apply to every human being on this planet.” ~ William Boyd
“Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living!” ~ Amanda Bradley
“Happiness comes more from loving than being loved; and often when our affection seems wounded it is only our vanity bleeding. To love, and to be hurt often, and to love again — this is the brave and happy life.” ~ J.E Buckrose
“Happiness and virtue rest upon each other; the best are not only the happiest, but the happiest are usually the best.” ~ Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. “~ George Burns
“All animals except man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.” ~ Samuel Butler
“To have joy one must share it. Happiness was born a twin.” ~ Lord Byron
“Joy has nothing to do with material things, or with man’s outward circumstance…A man living in the lap of luxury can be wretched, and a man in the depths of poverty can overflow with joy.” ~ William Barclay