Early this week a very dear lady asked me, "How do you maintain a constant state of happiness?" I chuckled to myself and very simply replied, "I don't." I am not in the business of perpetual happiness. I am in the business of life. I see no reason to be unhappy, but sometimes there is so much more to experiencing life than reason alone. Sometimes, emotion trumps reason. And I'm okay with that. To the very dear lady, I went on to explain my statement with what shaped up quite nicely into my unofficial pseudo-guidelines for experiencing life:
(1) Every action is the result of a choice.
Every move I make is the direct result of a personal choice. These choices can be acted upon sub-consciously or consciously, but my actions are the results of choice-making either way. One must live with the choices one makes; so choose wisely, for a future spent looking back is not a happy future. To live consciously is to act with awareness. To act with awareness is to live in the moment.
(2) Live in the present.
When you live consciously and act with awareness, you release yourself of your past and future. A mind occupied by thoughts outside of the present moment is a cluttered mind. Your best can not come from a multi-tasking mind. When you live in the past, you live with regrets. When you live in the future, you live with worry. Neither regret nor worry can bring happiness. The present presents you with choices that determine your future, and happiness is a choice.
(3) When in doubt, respond to life with logic and reason.
If for some reason you become lost in life, and you find you can not live with the choices you have made, take action so that your future may be different from your unhappy present. Should you find the thought of your life unbearable, try a different lifestyle on for size. Any new or atypical action is a step away from your momentary circumstances and a step toward happiness.
When one is able to love and accept oneself, one is better able to love others; and to love others creates an exquisite natural and self-perpetuating high. Giving love to others brings love and positivity into your life. The more you give, the more you get. Feeding on that positive energy creates more positive energy upon which others may feed.
I've learned in the last six months that life can be lived as fast or slow as you want it to be lived. You can play by the rules or you can break them. You can sit passively or you can stand actively. You can use your mind, or you can depend on the minds of others. Bottom line, actively participate in your life; make choices that have consequences with which you can live happily. And when you lose sight of that--which, we all do--do something about it. All hope can never be lost. Never is it too late to turn your circumstances around. Tonight I dealt with some demons. I used logic to forgive myself and free my soul at last of some past regrets. I acted.
The Task of Happiness
If I have faltered more or less
In my great task of happiness;
If I have moved among my race
And shown no glorious morning face;
If beams from happy human eyes
Have moved me not: if morning skies,
Books, and my food, and summer rain
Knocked on my sullen heart in vain:--
Lord, Thy most pointed pleasure take
And stab my spirit broad awake;
Or, Lord, if too obdurate I,
Choose Thou, before that spirit die,
A piercing pain, a killing sin,
And to my dead heart run them in!
--Robert Louis Stevenson