THINK ON THESE: In search of happiness

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve
decided to look beyond the imperfections.” – Gerard Way

***

Recently, three elderly Filipinos – who were former classmates when they were still young – got together. They were relaxing in the shade of a mango tree and philosophizing. One was a well-known politician, another was a university professor, and the third was a simple farmer.

All three were dreaming about what they would love to have the following day. The politician said all he would like were two things: a new car that would bring him to a white-sand beach. The professor said he wanted a cup of hot coffee and spent the day reading a nice book at the library.

The farmer said he did not want anything special for tomorrow, but just the regular things that happened every day, like the sunrise, crops growing well, and birds nesting and singing in his fruit trees.

That night, a strong earthquake rocked the province. It smashed the politician’s new car. As for the professor, his dream was also shattered: all the cups were broken and the library full of books burnt down.

But the farmer’s wishes were not in the least affected by the tremor. The sun rose as usual, the crops were growing well, and the birds nested and sang in the branches of his fruit trees.

“Happy is the man who does not dream great things for the future but takes each day as a present from the hand of God,” so goes a Chinese saying. “All presents are good.”

Happiness, at best, is an illusory goal. “Happiness is not a destination; it is a manner of traveling,” Haim Ginott said. “It is not an end in itself. It is a by-product of working, playing, loving, and living.”

Who is happy? Jane Canfield answered it well: “The happiest people are rarely the richest, or the most beautiful, or even the most talented. Happy people do not depend on excitement and ‘fun’ supplied by externals. They enjoy the fundamental, often very simple, things of life. They waste no time thinking other pastures are greener; they do not yearn for yesterday or tomorrow. They savor the moment, glad to be alive, enjoying their work, their families, the good things around them. They are adaptable; they can bend with the wind, adjust to the changes in their times, enjoy the contests of life, and feel themselves in harmony with the world.”

Despite this, people are searching for the elusive happiness. Where is it? You can’t find it in pleasure. Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure, if anyone did. He wrote: “The worm, the canker, and the grief are mine alone.”

Happiness can be found in wealth. Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth.” Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of position and fame. But neither makes him happy. “Youth is a mistake; manhood, a struggle; old age, a regret,” he wrote.

You won’t even find real happiness in military glory. Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept, because, he said, “There are no more worlds to conquer.”

A sick man asked a philosopher to write some inspirational thoughts that could be treasured from generation to generation. So the wise man wrote: “Father dies, son dies, grandson dies.”

The sick man, who was also very rich, was upset at the words and complained, “Is that what you call a happy message for my family?”

The philosopher replied, “If your grandson would die before you and your son, you would be broken-hearted. If your family dies in the order I have written down, isn’t that prosperity and happiness?”

Happiness comes not from having much to live on but having much to live for. Once upon a time, there was a man who had grown weary of life. So, one day, he decided to leave his own hometown to search for the perfect Magical City where all would be different, new, full, and rewarding. So he left without saying goodbye to anyone.

On his journey, he found himself in a forest. As he settled down for the night, he was careful to take off his shoes and point them in the new direction toward which he was going. However, unknown to him, while he was sleeping, an animal happened to turn his shoes around. When the man awoke the next morning, he carefully stepped into his shoes and continued his journey to the Magical City.

After a few days, he finally came to the city he was looking for. Not quite as large as he had imagined it would be, however. In fact, it looked somewhat familiar. He found a familiar street, knocked at a familiar door, met a familiar family he found there – and lived happily ever after.

The search for happiness, someone once said, is one of the chief sources of unhappiness. Just think how happy you’d be if you lost everything you have right now – family, job, position, friends, home, etc. – and then got them back again.

Here’s a recipe for happiness: Take equal parts of faith and courage, mix well with a sense of humor, sprinkle with a few tears, and add a helping of kindness for others. Bake in a good-natured oven and dust with laughter. Scrape away any self-indulgence that is apparent and serve with generous blessings.

Much happiness is oftentimes overlooked simply because it doesn’t cost anything.

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