Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hooked on Happiness?

“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”

Chuang-Tzu (350 B.C.)

It’s always challenging to comment on these “Zen like” sayings which respond well to exploration in a five day or five year retreat setting.

I find myself on the other side of many motivational and self-help experts who counsel millions on how to be happy. My sense is that happiness is too transitory to actively create and in that context, I resonate with Chuang-Tzu.

I do believe we can set up our lives such that feelings of joy and satisfaction are more likely to occur. Happiness seems more random and therefore, while not something we can manufacture, something we can fully celebrate …. another welcome miracle in our lives.

What about you? Are you “hooked on happiness” as a goal or ????? Please share with all of us your thoughts and perhaps your strategies.

With love and respect,



denese said...

Finding happiness is about living in a state of mind that suspends judgment and that waits for where the universe (God, the Divine, Fate) takes me.

Expecting less while transcending more has given me much happiness.


denese said...


About being "hooked on happiness": I think that's an oxymoron. If you expect it or desire it it will elude you.

I'm just sayin'.


mkierson said...

I pretty much resonate with what Denese said. 'Happiness' is a word that describes a state of being, and that state is simply who you are when you are just being who you are. It is who one is when one lets go of everything that obstructed the experience; a letting go, not an adding to. If you make it a goal, you are adding something. You are saying, "I don't have this & I want it so I'll do things to get it". The key phrase in all that is "I want". The ultimate reasoning behind wanting anything is that if you have it you will be happy. Nobody ever experiences the state of happiness through the path of "I want".

Boris G Freesman, Q.C. said...

Or, another but similar perspective as articulated by Cicero: "Happiness is peace of mind."

dfein said...

For me happiness / joy boils down to my level of net free physical and mental energy (H=NFE!). The level and quality of our free or excess energy is the direct driver of our experience of happiness and joy. Everything/anything that bogs us down psychologically zaps our energy and our experience becomes one of non-happiness. Therefore, psychological and emotional freedom is the prerequisite for happiness.

Things I do to free myself and therefore provide more “free energy” provides an experience of happiness. I also think happiness is a distant byproduct and can’t be obtained directly. I make a distinction between the experience of happiness and the concept of happiness. It’s much too easy to stay stuck in thinking/metallization/semantics about happiness (where I was trapped for many years) and never move to the depths where the real game goes on.

I think that is where the “zen likeness” of happiness comes in to play—try directly for happiness and it’s impossibly elusive, focus on freeing your mind, body and spirit and happiness is a natural by product.

David Fein

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