Wednesday, February 17, 2016

On Happiness -- A Quickie Rumination With A Little Music

     Aristotle called happiness that which we seek as an end in itself and for no other reason. It was among his most important insights...yet there’s at least one that was even more important:

Happiness cannot be sought directly.

     It’s the consequence of a life well lived, with full attention to the cultivation and exercise of the virtues, and the proper application of one’s gifts.

     Everything we seek explicitly, we seek for some utilitarian reason. Many of the things men seek are thought to be “routes to happiness.” Yet there are no such routes, other than a life well lived.

     A life well lived will elicit many reactions from others, all the way from fervent adulation to corrosive envy. Yet those things are not routes to happiness but mere incidental consequences of a life well lived. You cannot become happy by feasting on the emotions of others.

     Note the powerful correlation between the determination to live right and the virtue of gratitude. Life itself is a gift. Moreover, it’s the indispensable gift. You can’t live right if you don’t live, right?

     (Forgive me for that last, Gentle Reader. It was too good to pass up.)

     Among those who wallow in their unhappiness and complain most bitterly of it, we can find many who have more than they could ever be properly grateful for. Hearken to the late, great David Ackles as he tells us of a typical pair:

     It is possible to live right and to be grateful for the gift of life regardless of one’s placement in space, time, and circumstance. Ponder the Jenkinses in Ackles’ composition, and ask yourself: If I were to replace one of them, could I do it better than they did? How?

     Just a quick thought for your Wednesday. And may God bless and keep you all.


Reg T said...

I may be too simple to think this deeply, but it seems to me that the trick is to be grateful for what you have, not hunger for what you don't have, what you want. Yes, I understand that we sometimes need something we don't have - say treatment for an ill child, or a reliable vehicle to get us to work, a job where you are not troubled with an abusive boss. But living our lives wanting, "needing", the things we can easily do without is a recipe for needless disappointment, frustration. Be happy with the good things in your life, and it is lived much more pleasantly.

Tim Turner said...

I've come to understand that happiness is . . .

No, I haven't. The best moment was the birth of my daughter.

There is NOTHING that compares to that one moment when I thought I was a man and my wife was a woman and we were part of ongoing life.

I know it sounds sappy. But that moment when my wife gave birth to our daughter was more than just "happy." It was transcendental. It was a moment that was beyond my understanding, but at the same time made me understand everything.

"Happy" is a chimera. Understanding, comfort and knowledge are much better goals.

jim rock said...

Philippians 4:11-13

Reg T said...


I don't know if you were responding to _my_ use of the word "happy", but it was meant in the sense of being satisfied. I should have used "satisfied" instead, but as I usually write late at night, I don't always think as clearly as I might otherwise.