Psychiatrist and author, W. Beran Wolfe (1900 – 1935), once wrote:
“If you observe a really happy man, you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his child, growing double dahlias or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that had rolled under the radiator, striving for it as a goal in itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours of each day.”
This is probably the best description of human happiness I have encountered. It just nails it. Unfortunately, most of us make the mistake of thinking and believing that once this or that happens, we will finally be happy. We think that once we get the dream house, the perfect car, the big job, the kids move out, we get an inheritance, etc, we will finally be happy.
The problem here should be painfully obvious. We are renting out our present, the only thing we truly have, to some imagined future. Ponder that for a moment. How endemic this thought process is, especially to American culture, simply cannot be overstated. We are religiously taught to subjugate our present to our future – a future that may or may not materialize. That’s a risky bet to be sure. In the process we end up missing the only time we really have – the now.
One of the most difficult things for us to learn to do is be fully aware and engaged in each moment and yet this deceptively simple skill is the beginning of enlightenment or, happiness if you will.
The prime adversary in our efforts to achieve “in the moment” awareness is our internal dialog. The near constant chatter the goes on in our minds. That voice that never ceases in it’s maniacal narration of our lives. If it were a real person, a friend perhaps who was always with you, 24×7, constantly blabbering, you’d probably shoot them.
Yet it is such an elemental part of our being that if it were to stop, most of us would run amok thinking we had suffered some horrific medical event such as a stroke or perhaps even died. Yet, this very inner quiet is the singular focus of most forms of meditation. For most practitioners, it takes years to be able to achieve and maintain the stilling of the inner voice so that one can simply – be.
We have all probably attended the funeral of someone who worked slavishly most of their lives, eschewing time with family, vacations, leisure, a social life of any kind all so that once retirement came along, they could enjoy the fruits of their sacrifices and finally be happy. But what happened? Death happened. And we all mourn not so much the death of the physical person but the death of their opportunity for to finally be happy. What a pity indeed. As I said earlier, it’s a very risky bet.
Beran Wolfe had it right. Happiness is something you DO, not something you find. It is a decision to be present in each moment. Today is the day, now is the time. Life is happening right now -not tomorrow and not yesterday. These ARE the good old days so take each moment as precious for there is but the one.
Happiness is, without question, a choice to be made and that choice belongs to not another soul but our own. So whatever it is that you are waiting for, stop. It is happening all around you right now and it always has been.
~Edward G. Dunn