A Bit About Happiness

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December 4, 2019-

Yesterday, whilst enjoying a bowl of soup and slice of avocado toast, I was amused by a little girl running gingerly back and forth, from her father’s table to a small shelf that had toys and books.  Her happiness flowed outward-and was contagious.

There is some “back and forth”, on sites like Quora and other online places, as to the part that happiness plays in one’s life.  There are those who maintain that happiness is a goal, or rather, THE goal, of a person’s life.  Others say “No, it is triumph over suffering, that is THE goal of this life.”

I maintain that happiness is a baseline, not a goal, of life.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha would ask people “Are you happy?  If you are not happy today, for what day do you wait?”  Think of the dreariest of mornings-perhaps in the dark of winter, or on an early spring day, with cold drizzle and snow remnants, blackened by soot.  Chances are, you won’t know of this state of affairs until you get out of bed.   So, it is the mood that accompanies a person, when she or he awakes and gets up, which sets the tone.  The outward dreariness does not have to define one’s life.

Of course, physical ailments have much to do with the mood of the day, as well.  So do social circumstances.  These, however, do not have to circumvent basic happiness.  I think of my late wife, bedridden for most of her final year in this life.  Even when she was conveying her thoughts about her condition, her decline, there was an air of  contentment, that she felt caring and love coming her way-this, from a base of happiness.

There is a common theme, in many of the world’s Constitutions, that the pursuit of happiness is an inherent right of  every human being.  Happiness, though, is already latent within us.  It is obvious, in the eyes of an infant, or the joyful run of a toddler, that the state of being happy exists from the inside out.  It is much like love-and actually flows out from the love that also is basic to our existence.

Love brought us into being, sustains us through ordeals and is with us, in the end.  Happiness, whether from quotidian events or from grand experiences, is also enduringly present, if one chooses to recognize its presence.

The goal of life?  To me, that is developing one’s strengths, positive attributes, to the greatest of  one’s ability.

Smelling The Roses

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November 24, 2019-

For the longest time, I went through life being purposeful, and regarding taking time with non-essentials as a waste of time.  Even time in nature had to be for the purpose of reaching a goal.

Penny got me to slow down, just a bit, and to not  look at life as just a thing to be accomplished.  Since I wasn’t really all that ambitious, in the conventional sense, learning to relax and not be time-driven was actually refreshing.

Jordan Peterson’s twelfth rule for life is “If You See A Cat on The Road, Pet It.”.    Although many of the cats I’ve encountered in life are hardly willing to be petted, the sentiment is  a charming one.

Being semi-retired, I now take more time for the gentle pleasures of life.  Most of the people in my life understand this, and many say it’s high time. I have encountered a few who take umbrage at my pastimes, and their words sometimes trigger memories of my past.  This leads me to lash out, as I did in the earlier version of this post.  Time away, reading “Abby Wize”, brought me back down to the level at which I am in a better frame of mind.  Nobody likes being triggered, yet I need to keep above it.

That is the thing.  I have worked hard, at a number of endeavours, both professionally and socially.  I have earned a measure of taking time to smell the roses.  Lest anyone think I was playing the victim card earlier- think again.  Lest anyone think I am dodging social responsibility, think twice.  I  continue to be very much involved in community activities. That, to me, is part of taking time for what is beautiful in life.  Towards that end, I enjoy walking in our lovely town, spending much time in leisurely walks through nature.  I will continue to enjoy time with non-judgmental people.  I will pet animals, especially dogs, which enjoy that kind of attention.  As you may have guessed, I will also continue to travel widely, especially towards the late spring and summer months of next year.  As Dr. Peterson says, taking time for what is meaningful is what keeps us in good health, and even helps the sick to recover.

This concludes my first set of commentaries on the Twelve Rules for Life.

 

 

First Survey of the Year

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January 5, 2016, Prescott- 

At the behest of one of my Xanga friends, here goes:

  1. List 3 names you go by:
    1. Gary (Preferred)

    2. Mr. B (used by my students)

    3. Gare Bear (rarely heard anymore, but used by ex-Xangans, back when I was Cyberbear on Xanga)

    Name 3 places you’ve lived:
    1. Saugus, MA (from the time I was six months old until I left for the Army, and again in 1972)

    2. Cheju, Korea (1986-92)

    3. Prescott, AZ ( 3 separate stints-1992, for six months; 2000-01, for twelve months; 2011-Present)

    List 3 places you’ve worked:
    1.  Star Market ( I was terrible at bagging, but I did work for one of my two best bosses- Bob Powers)

    2. Jeddito School (The best job I ever had:  School Counselor, K-8, a job into which I grew)

    3. Mingus Springs Charter School (Red-tape led to a short tenure, but I proved I could teach coherently, day-to-day)

    What are 3 things you love to watch:
    1.  People treating each other nicely

    2.  Animals in the wild

    3.  Children feeling genuinely happy

    Name 3 places you’ve visited:
    1.  Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

    2.  Mt. Halla,South Korea

    3.  Utah Beach, Normandy

    Name 3 foods you love to eat:

    1.Baked stuffed shrimp

    2. Lasagne

    3. Hummus

    Name 3 favourite beverages:

    1.Coffee (Cream only)

    2. Mango Iced Tea

    3. Filtered water

     

    Name 3 things you are looking forward to:
    1. Working with children & teens, for at least five more years.

    2. Resuming summer travel, starting with the Philippines and nearby countries, in 2017.

    3. Seeing my son and other family members realize their dreams.

Centenarians

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I read a piece in Yahoo! yesterday, about a 100-year-old woman who met her natural daughter only six years ago.  The daughter is now 77.  This seems to be a very positive, life-affirming event, for both women, and for their families.

This is one of the many anomalies that have arisen, and will continue to arise, as more and more people reach the century mark.  If you aspire to attain Methuselah status, what are your plans for such an event, and, more importantly, for the time afterward? Some, like George Burns and Bob Hope, just barely crossed the finish line and made it their last race.  Others, like all those who become the Oldest Man/Oldest Woman in the World, or like Frank Buckles and Claude Choules, the two last surviving combat veterans of World War I, (both of whom died last year),have plans for staying in the game and achieving real goals.

If I am so indulged, I want to leave this all behind with my hips swinging and my arms outstretched, in embrace of all that life has to offer, and with an appreciation for what this life has taught me.  As my Penny said, “I want to die with my boots on.”  She did so, when it was her time, though far from the century mark.  I wouldn’t mind going the distance, since her spirit is always around, and I have this thirst for achievement and experience.