Pursuit of Happiness

I’m a generally happy person in some ways, a bit melancholy and down in others. Some of it depends on the day, or maybe the way the planets are aligned for all I can figure out. I certainly let people bring me down, probably more than I should. I am deeply saddened by people being bigoted and drawing conclusions based on misinformation. People tell me that I have to let that go, and that I shouldn’t let it bother me, but that requires some control over what does and doesn’t make me sad. Control that I simply don’t possess. It makes me wonder if anybody has that kind of control. Can anybody really decide that something isn’t going to make the sad, and then, poof, it doesn’t make them sad anymore? That seems so foreign to me, but a superpower I would really like to have.

What has me thinking about this right now? Well, likely a combination of some stuff that’s been bothering me for a long time (not worth raising details here) and the hour or so of sleep that I managed to put together all night last night. Not a good combination, but none of that made me start this post alone. What got me was this quote: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” The place where I work has somewhat recently put quotes, painted/etched in glass, on some of the walls in heavy traffic areas. I hadn’t seen this one until today. It’s attributed to Mahatma Ghandi, and though I was able to find it at many places online, I was unable to determine the context. Was it part of a speech? Was he talking to some reporter? Did somebody ask him the secret of happiness? I have no idea. I did find a variant, “He is the ideal man whose actions, speech and thought are in harmony with one another.” I’ll forgive the lack of a serial (Oxford) comma, but only because I think these are really important guiding principles for our lives.

I know that I am far from perfect, but I do believe that, for the most part, what I feel, do, and say are very nicely aligned. And I think the more aligned they are, the more peaceful and whole I feel inside. This blog has been mostly about policy and politics and how I see the world, so this may seem a bit of a tangent, but it’s not. It’s not because I’ve come to realize, even more so today than ever before, the simple fact that this, this harmony, may be somewhat uncommon, or even rare. I hear many people look at somebody who is not “politically correct” and they say something like, “he tells it how it is,” or “he just says what everybody else is thinking.” My reaction is always the same: everybody else? Who thinks that? Then I uncontrollably feel sad, because I’m confronted with the truth that many people do think things that are bigoted, intolerant, mean-spirited, and hurtful. Many people do feel those things, but keep them inside because of the social pressures that push against those kinds of thoughts. Social pressures that I appreciate, because I think those thoughts are harmful, but social pressures that apparently are not sufficient to make people feel differently, just sufficient to make them speak differently. Those people will never know the comfort and inner peace that comes from having our thoughts, actions, and speech all in harmony. Maybe this isn’t the only way to find that peace. Maybe there are other paths. Actually, I’m quite sure there are, but this is a pretty easy one, at least for me. But it’s not something to be proud of, it’s something to be grateful for. I am grateful that I do not feel these feelings of hate that are socially unacceptable anywhere except a Donald Trump rally. I am grateful that I do not have to suppress how I feel about these things. That’s not to say that my thoughts and speech and actions are perfectly aligned. Of course I have things that I think, but do not say, for many reasons, but I am fortunate that those things are a tiny minority of the myriad thoughts that swirl through my head. I sure am grateful for that right now…not as grateful as I’d be for a chance to sleep, but pretty grateful.

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