My much appreciated doggy friends are a constant source of inspiration these days. One of them appeared today radiant with happiness, she had made a great decision that would change her life and she was beside herself with joy. The issue this time was happiness and why it is that when one reaches such a state one tries to perpetuate it, and she asked me for my opinion.
When it comes to happiness there are opinions to suit all tastes, as many as there are definitions for the of the word. The fact is that there isn’t a definite formula for it, but I would like to give some thought to certain aspects of it that sometimes lead to confusion. Is happiness just a question of ‘moments’, as some say? It depends on how you have worked on it.
We have many different roles in life, the lady I’ve been sharing my reflections with today is a daughter, a friend, a colleague, she’s a worker, she goes out partying, she has a lovely –and somewhat of a rascal- dog, she’s a sister, a couple, an ex-couple too … we all have an endless capacity of interpreting roles and each one has its pattern. Patterns can be balanced or not, according to each person’s life experiences, his personal history, his capabilities, his traumas … one can be happy carrying out certain patterns and deeply unhappy in others. We tend to practice more those we are better at and neglect those we are not very good at, and the result are the well-known emotional to’s and fro’s that we find so disorienting.
Happiness is a question of ‘moments’ if the person is happy in just one or two roles, but not in the rest. Some people think it has to do with chance or coincidence. I rather tend to think that happiness is a wonderful mixture of talent, intuition, work, magic, dedication, care, attention, love and commitment … but, above all, of inner work, knowing ourselves, knowing what we really want and striving to achieve it, and do so in most of the roles we carry out in this world.
A very common mistake is to pretend that if happiness is reached in a given aspect of our life this should make up for the need to be happy in other less fortunate ones. Managing to be happy in some aspect and neglecting the rest is usually devastating in the long term, unless the person in question has enough with one or two roles in life. Each to his own. In the end happiness is the quotient between what one wants and what one achieves. In today’s conversation my friend’s sentence came out in a clear and concise way: “At this moment of my life I get everything I want” That is a feeling of personal satisfaction very much related to happiness, but even to want and wish for things, we need to know.
They say, for example, that ‘money doesn’t give happiness’ which is only half true, it can give material happiness, but obviously not family happiness, or happiness in our relationship, or personal fulfilment. Pretending that happiness in one aspect is also responsible for happiness in all the rest is, to say the least, naïve. Nor does happiness in the family necessarily give us personal fulfilment, or happiness with our friends imply happiness in our relationship. Happiness is the combination of many different parts, so I wished my doggy friend that, now that she is feeling so happy, to make the most of her good moment and work on as many aspects of herself as she can, especially those she finds harder, so that the success she has reached in one of them may serve her as inspiration for the rest.
Beatriz Fdez. del Castillo