Sunday, January 24, 2016 11:51 AM
Unhappiness can seem like a deep pit from which there is no escape—but then something happens and happiness dawns—we look back and see that the shadows that surrounded our thoughts have all dispersed, that nothing is quite so bad as it seemed—that life is, in fact, good. And this happens to us whether we are rich or poor, lonesome or crowded, silly or distinguished.
The difference is that unhappiness has reasons—ask anyone who is down and they’ll tell you the many reasons for their dismay. Ask someone why they’re happy, however, and they’ll tell you they don’t know—they just are. Is happiness merely an escape from reason? That’s entirely possible—there are plenty of reasons for worry—happiness may be simply the ability to transcend the knowledge that all life ends, that all things must pass, that human beings are not always nice people.
Consider intoxication-it’s got ‘toxic’ right there in the word—we poison ourselves with alcohol, etc. to escape from reason, to become happy. Consider the song lyric: “Forget your troubles, come on, get happy.”—we are not told to solve our problems, just to forget them. Happiness isn’t the absence of trouble, it’s the ignoring of trouble.
This brings us to the somewhat insane conclusion that happiness is not about conditions, it’s about attitude—we can be miserable in total comfort, and we can be happy in a snake pit—how we feel doesn’t necessarily match what we feel. So be happy—nothing can stop you. Just don’t go to your friends’ funerals that way—sometimes we are obligated to be unhappy. On the other hand, don’t be unhappy at a party—nobody likes a wet blanket.
To some degree, happiness comes from being busy—being busy is like being intoxicated—things happen, we get distracted from our thoughts, and happiness can spring out of any corner of our minds. That’s why being idle is so depressing—our unhappiness is uninterrupted and we need to be interrupted to remind us that happiness is an option. Loneliness and idleness are dangerous because they form pools of uninterrupted unhappiness—no distractions.
Charity and charitable works, likewise, do not make us happy because we are being ‘good’, they make us happy because they keep us busy thinking about someone else. But nothing makes us happier than danger—life is never so sweet as when death has been recently avoided. Life is so friggin weird.