Can a blind man ever be happy?
Nobody wants to suffer. Really nobody. But how is it that, even thousands of years after the end of the Stone Age, we are still struggling for every moment of happiness and hardly a day goes by without suffering? Has politics failed? Or have philosophy, spiritual practice and religions led us astray?
Almost 70 years after the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, suffering is still part of everyday life around the world - be it through persecution, acts of terrorism, civil wars, environmental destruction, exploitation and violence, or through burn-out, conflicts , Depression and loneliness. Is it appropriate to worry about happiness while around the Mediterranean Sea (not far from our popular holiday destinations) hundreds of thousands of people are on the run from an apocalyptic hell that was once their home? Are we not exposing ourselves to the justified criticism of living in the cocoon overly full, blind self-centeredness? How can we ponder happiness while many of these uprooted, exhausted people are concerned about survival on a daily basis? Despite these important concerns, it doesn't seem helpful at all to downgrade happiness as a secondary issue. Because the search for peace, happiness and harmony drives all people. It is a natural, serious motive in human action. The level of happiness we experience has a noticeable effect on our quality of life, as does the level of suffering. Even for people on the move, it's not just about survival, but also about living happily and in peace and seeing their children grow up. A dreary life is more than known to them.
The search for peace, happiness and harmony drives all people.
Less than a hundred years ago, Europe too sank repeatedly into chaos and experienced extreme levels of violence and displacement. These collective experiences still have a certain influence on our attitude towards life, our behavior, raising children, our fears and (night) dreams and on our idea of happiness. Many families still struggle to build relationships on the stable forces of warmth, closeness, caring, or comfort. Successful relationships are therefore a real feat for some people. In particular, it is not always easy for them to be loving and caring for themselves. Despite the relative calm and security in Europe, many people do not feel really happy, but rather driven, stressed, depressed or lonely and suffer from more or less strong fears. Is Happiness Really That Hard? Maybe we wrestle so much with the topic because we don't quite know how to recognize deeply felt happiness and stabilize this knowledge. Could it be that we experiment randomly and spontaneously in our life and hope to be somehow happy?
Successful relationships are therefore a real feat for some people.
Influenced by the world of thought of a society that has been economized right down to the private sphere, we shift our search for happiness to gaining satisfaction by trying to fulfill as many wishes as possible. Because for a brief moment it almost feels like real happiness. (The happy, laughing faces in the commercials show how it is done.) Every new possession, every new position, every new achievement triggers a small frenzy of success: my title, my position, my partner, my children, my house, my car , my money, my meditation and even my religion. It is as if our existence is noticeably confirmed by what we have: we feel more alive. Imperceptibly, the desire drives us on and on: Once I have what I want, then I will be happy ... On an emotional level, something like a brief feeling of happiness actually occurs when we get what we want. A positive hormonal tidal wave in the brain is the reward for success. But this pleasant short state of intoxication changes naturally. It dissolves like a dream and after a short time the question arises: What do I do next so that I feel good again? Soon my thoughts are running at full speed again: I should ... I have to ... I need more ... It doesn't matter how much we get. The desire is only ever satisfied for a short time. Even when it rains gold, desire does not find satisfaction. You cannot find peace by satisfying your desires. Because fear creeps in: what you have, you can lose again. This thought then gives us the idea of protecting ourselves. It is, of course, a legitimate concern to defend oneself against disruptions and threats, but at times worrying about securing property takes embarrassingly selfish flowers. Everything that comes from outside and is strange suddenly appears as a threat to one's own happiness.
The need to let go is not up for negotiation in our changing world. But when major changes are pending, we sometimes take it very personally and cling to our things for a long time. Change then seems to threaten this fragile happiness. It can be very difficult to let go of what you identify with and what you consider mine to be. It is often very difficult for us, especially in relationships - my children, my mother, my husband. The fear of losing part of one's identity in the process runs deep. Losing something can feel like a little death. Only later will we see that every letting go is the chance for something new, fresh, and delicate. So how can we really be happy? Deeply felt happiness is a mental state, resting in the stillness of the mind, at home in the power of love. This state can be cultivated with suitable spiritual and meditative exercises. Happiness is not a coincidence or the fulfillment of all of our desires. Deep happiness is in the nature of the human heart. Access to this can be rediscovered with practice and self-awareness.
Be happy in an unhappy world?
In the life story of Prince Siddhartha there is an episode from his time as a searching wanderer. At that time he had joined a small group of strict hiking ascetics. Siddharta starved his body extremely. Emaciated and run down, he finally collapsed exhausted and lay numb on the floor. He would probably have died had it not been for a young woman from the nearby village. She saw the passed out, emaciated man whose meals consisted of only a few grains of rice a day. His radical abstinence from food had left him in a sorry state. Quietly and with great compassion, she sat down and handed him sweet rice pudding.
Happiness is not a coincidence or the fulfillment of all of our desires.
This story is a reminder that when we act without compassion and caring, everything becomes out of whack. What really nourishes us? What strengthens us Nobody can live on just a few grains of rice a day. The young woman showed Siddharta this in her unpretentious, helpful way by doing and acting the obvious. Even people in need and on the run need more than a few grains of rice. Most of all, they need our humanity and compassionate action to have a chance of ever being happy again.
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