Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Love and Happiness

There are some people who seem to always be happy, regardless of how meager their situations appear to the outside observer. There are also people who cannot seem to sustain happiness, no matter how great their lives are perceived to be by others. This dichotomy exists because the inclination towards happiness manifests in different degrees in different people, with little correlation to their circumstances. While some people are born with a consistent tendency to be happy, I maintain that those who feel that their propensity for happiness is insufficient can increase it considerably over the course of their lives.

Before I describe how this is done, let me first explain what I mean by happiness. We all believe we know what happiness is since most of us have had bouts of it, regardless of our relative inability to sustain it. But if you ask most people what it means to be happy, you typically get a list of effects and synonyms but rarely a good characterization of the underlying cause.

I regard happiness as the appreciation of the absence of need. In this context need is our separation from completeness. At first glance this would seem to indicate that only those who have achieved completeness (the topic of another essay), can be truly happy. But from a deeper perspective it means that happiness is more readily available to those who have greater awareness of their proximity to completeness (or, as is often the case with simpler folk, less awareness of their separation from completeness).

Bear in mind that happiness is not our ultimate objective. In general, sustained happiness is simply an indicator that we are near our true objective of completeness. The closer we are to completeness, the fewer needs we have to focus on and so the more likely we are to be happy. Mind you, those who lack a sufficient propensity for happiness will usually just place a greater emphasis on their remaining needs.

Viewed this way it looks like it is theoretically possible to be too happy. For those of us who still see ourselves as far from complete, our needs are our primary incentive to grow. As such, if we still have needs but our happiness has us directing our attention away from them, this incentive to grow would no longer be effective, thus potentially retarding our growth.

We are protected from this eventuality by our other important incentive to grow. Where need is our negative incentive to grow, our positive incentive to grow is love. Again most of us believe we know what love is since we are of the impression that we have experienced it either directly or indirectly at some point in our lives. But when asked to define love we typically put forth a litany of symptoms, not an explanation of the condition.

Love is the empathically induced completeness that we feel through our awareness of our proximity to completeness. In other words, love is the feeling we get from our realization that we are a part of something truly wonderful. The existence of this positive incentive to grow allows those who are both needful and happy to be inclined to grow through their love, which will draw them towards the ultimate source of the completeness they feel.

Love is the basis of our propensity to be happy. This means that those who feel they lack the inclination to be happy simply do not have enough love in their lives. Such people are insufficiently aware of their proximity to completeness.

To resolve this situation you should first cultivate an awareness of the existence of a state of completeness that transcends all need and is the source of all love in the world. Whether you call this state God, Unity or the peace of perfect equilibrium, the existence of such a state is easy to recognize if you are open to it.

Once you accept the existence of this complete state, you can increase your propensity to be happy by nurturing an awareness of your proximity to it. I maintain that each conscious being is separated from this state of completeness by a single thought. The specific nature of this thought is different for each individual. The trick is figuring out what that thought is for you. But in the interim, you can be happier simply knowing how close we all are to the resultant state of completeness.

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