The pursuit of happiness is universal. There is no one who would rather be unhappy, depressed, unwanted, alone and afraid. Unhappiness to me looks like being naked and exposed in the most extreme climatic conditions imaginable (which for me would be extreme heat) and having no one to perhaps complain to about just how horrible you feel, and all the while the weather is slowly chipping away at your sanity and making a mockery of your very existence (just try to imagine that for a second). I concede that it is quite a melodramatic description; but if you think that is an extreme description, try being unhappy and see how it feels for yourself. Unhappiness feels like abandonment, without comfort in sight.
Without wanting to make a blanket statement about all people that feel unhappy or unhealthy, I think that is a fair to say that, unhappiness is directly linked to unhealthiness, and vice versa, as far as I can tell. There is a distinction to be drawn with regards to being unhealthy and feeling unhealthy; the lines may blur at various points, but again I think it’s fair to say that the former is a physical state of being and the latter is often a mental state (regardless of one’s physical state). So that, there will be several people that look healthy, but feel unhealthy – sometimes because they are unhealthy but often because of other “issues in the tissues”.
Regardless of what the causative factors are, I am finding increasingly in my daily walk with my inner self that, gratitude and generosity are at the very least a first step to a healthy and happy life.
I dare argue that, all unhappiness is rooted in some form of self-centeredness. This form of self-centeredness is defined by an inability to look beyond oneself and present circumstances to see the good in the world and an innate good in self. For me, a great approach to being happy has been having an outlook of gratitude. Gratitude is invariably laced with hope. Every time we say thank you for something, or for nothing at all in particular, but just because we are, there is an air of hope that is released for that moment and which goes on to affect the way we approach life subsequently. It sounds really simple but it is such a resilient truth.
Perhaps the angle I will include to this principle is, be thankful to yourself for not giving up. You have essentially gone through the various seasons of life and where others let go, you held on. When others fell short, as did you, you did not stay down. What others discarded (of themselves), you found light in and made a choice for the rejected (you); thereby injecting life into some dark place. Your choices may not have always been the best they could have been, but you continued to face life regardless and found that the only consequence of making and then facing mistakes head-on is strength. Where others were determined in their unhappiness, you decided to be grateful. Be grateful for you.
Generosity might not seem like the most obvious therapy for unhappiness or unhealthiness. However, as I implied earlier, there is a case to be made for the role of selflessness in finding a personal space of true health and happiness – or at least, the beginnings of it. And there are few things as selfless as giving.
Again, I would like to present an angle that slightly differs from the status-quo. We are used to giving what we have, when we can, when we feel like it or when we have it. There is one thing we have which we are hardly ever generous with though. It is a thing of limitless supply. It is a thing of infinite value. That thing is you, and it is me, and him, and her. Giving of our very beings, and giving off our essence and presence. Sharing our time with someone. Sharing our light. Sharing our love. And in spite of our present circumstances, giving our hands and hearts to help lift physical and emotional burdens - and not because we have got all the answers. Often people do not even need our answers, they just need someone to talk to till they navigate the path to their own enlightenment.
Above all, the greatest thing I have discovered we can be generous with is our own weakness. I have found how strong I am, not just by confronting my weaknesses, but by sharing of the experience of having them. The greatest lesson for me in this has been to no longer feel the need to share only about past weakness, or even worse, pretend like they are past! The journey to strength for me has been defined by the actual practice of strength. I tell it like it is and I am stronger for it and so are those who hear it.
We are a limitless resource because; we have the ability to document our lives and keep sharing long after we are no longer here. I embrace the potential my life holds to further the cause of my happiness, health and strength and that of other people’s.
Where unhappiness, and certain forms of unhealthiness by extension, often occur as a result of the feeling of having no one. I have found for myself that, selflessness opens the door of the heart and spirit to the right people, allowing them into your life at exactly the right time, and not always for obvious reasons. It also allows you to experience the satisfaction of taking your life by the horns. I no longer drift in the uncertain waters of my own dire emotions, waiting for anyone that isn’t already here to come into my life and to the rescue.
I give my life purpose by learning daily the joy of giving of myself to those I have, and saying “thank you” that my life has not been left to bitter chance. I am grateful for this revelation.