Happiness, Finding purpose

I have not posted here in the last two weeks. To be honest, I was not feeling it. Unusual. Uncharacteristic.

What I am feeling is depression. Despair. Delusion.

Last week during the wellness segment of an operational Teams® meeting, a graphic was put upon the screen about defining happiness. It read,

“Finding purpose in life can bring about positive feelings. Ask yourself:
• What excites me?
• What energizes me?
• What challenges my creativity?
• What makes me feel productive?”

The timing of this graphic query felt odd to me. I felt self-conscious for even considering my happiness while Ukrainian lives are being uprooted and destroyed by Russia’s thug, Vladimir Putin, and his red army.

Happiness, finding purpose

An old colleague of mine once told me that if we have our health and our family, we have all that we need to be happy. What if we do not have one or the other, or even both? What if we no longer have a country?

Each person has a unique experience to life. The trajectory toward happiness is not the same for each person. There are often fluctuations in an individual’s happiness depending on their current life stage – independence, climbing the pay scale, marriage and children, retirement, then back to dependence – hence, the circle of life. Managing the expectations of each life stage can make or break the happiness code.

I have listed below a few quotes on happiness and reflecting on their words may help us to define our own happiness and find purpose in our current stage of life.

Our far-flung faculty, joined by assorted scribes, sages, and stars, offer up their “Every moment of your life that is not a complete nightmare is happiness.” –Merrill Markoe, humor writer

“Happiness is touching someone and making their life better. This last year I went to Russia to train women to set up their own domestic violence shelters, and to give them hope that they could make things better for women in their society, as we have in the U.S. I was happy to have made a difference.” –Lynn Gold-Bikin, J.D., chairperson of the American Bar Association’s Family Law Section

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” –Samuel Johnson, 18th-century English philosopher

“Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.” –Linus Pauling, Nobel Prize-winning scientist

Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!” –Jane Austen

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances.” –Martha Washington

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition.” — Martha Stewart

“Happiness is having a large, loving, close-knit family–in another city,” –George Burns

“The deepest happiness comes from relationships with others–the mythic ‘touching of souls’–a parent and a child, a couple in love, best friends, the selfless helping of one another.” –Frank Farley, professor of psychology, Temple University

“We are becoming a nation of people who, in their quest for happiness, all too often fall short of achieving any kind of inner peace. . . We think that by always reaching higher, accomplishing more, more money, a better body, the perfect mate–that we will automatically be happy That’s an illusion. All this reaching is making us crazy. We need to rest.” –Melvyn Kinder, clinical psychologist

“I’m as happy as a man can get, without arousing suspicion.” –Hal Kantor, screenwriter

“There is no 12-step program to happiness, or to its longer-lasting cousin, satisfaction. Some people think a happy society can be achieved by suppressing individualistic desires; others believe individual happiness can be attained without attending to the needs of others. But individual and social needs shape each other. Lasting happiness requires constant negotiation and redefinition of both personal and societal goals.” –Stephanie Coontz, Ph.D., family historian and author of The Way We Never Were

“You never find happiness until you stop looking for it.” –Chuang Tzu, Chinese philosopher, 5th-6th century B.C.

“Happiness is absorption in a cause which in the end is but illusion.” –Joseph Campbell

“If there were in the world today any enormous number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years.” –Bertrand Russell

“Happiness is a blue sky, without clouds.” –Alfred Hitchcock

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.” –Edith Wharton

Taking my own parental advice

When my two sons were in their teens and the topic of college and career would come up, my advice to them was simply this, “Pursue your passion, find your purpose.” My oldest son, who pursued a fine arts degree in photography and has his photography being shown in art exhibitions. My youngest son is applying his cultural anthropology degree in a field his father and I could not have imagined. Only they can speak to their true level of happiness but I hear it in our conversations unless it turns to the subjects of food, gas, and healthcare costs, political and world affairs. Yet, we know there will always be bad things happening in the world and the question then becomes, “what we are doing to create happiness in the world?”

I guess, I already knew the answers to the questions listed in that graphic. Life is short no matter what stage of life and health we are in because all we need do is look at the world around us. When we pursue our passion, we find our purpose and harmony in mind, body, and spirit will surely follow.

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