The Art of Happiness

When I was eleven, I was quite the little baseball player. I had my white pants and my pink boxers (even at eleven, I was making the stamp that I was cougar bait). In the playoffs of my sixth grade year, we were in the semi-finals. It was the last inning and I was up to bat. There were two outs with a runner on second. The pitcher winds up, his release was off and throws the ball in the dirt. Catcher throws the ball back to the pitcher. The pitcher took a deep breath. He stepped back on the pitching rubber. He wound up, threw the ball, and as the ball was coming near me, I knew it was right in my hot spot. I gathered all of the strength in my back leg, began twisting my hips and my shoulders and I swung. When I realized I had hit the ball, I looked up and saw that I had hit the ball so high, so far, and so hard, that it was already almost out of the 225-foot centerfield wall. By the time I stepped out of the batters box, it had already cleared the fence by almost 75 feet. I was in sheer elation because those were the runs necessary to win the game and get us into the next round. When I look back on my childhood, this is one of my happiest moments.

It’s easy to be happy when things are going your way,  isn’t it? The older I get, though, the more I value my own happiness. Being happy is truly one of the greatest gifts and experiences that one can have in this life. The older I get though, I realize that I don’t have a lot of control over my life. You don’t really have control over who you fall in love with (although you have the choice to continue to love them). You don’t really have control over when or if you have children (sometimes, our bodies just don’t allow us to). We don’t have control over others, their decisions and how their decisions impact us. The older I get, the more I realize that my happiness cannot depend on mere circumstantial events. It’s easy to be happy when you hit the game winning homerun. But, when things aren’t going our way, can we still be happy?

A Spanish Philosopher named Meister Eckhart once said this, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” It seems that true happiness is built around two things: our ability to accept things and our ability to appreciate things. I am convinced that most human beings are not happy because they are chronic control freaks. How could anyone be happy if their ability to be happy is built around them having things the way they want things? We live in a broken and screwed up world. Some things we can control, some people we can control, but that’s not true of all things and people. This is why the happiest people I know are the people who have learned how to accept things as they are. They don’t need to control people. They can love what is, simply as what is. In their ability to accept their lives and other’s lives, they develop an overwhelming gratitude for life. They receive their lives and others’ as gifts. In their pain, they can say, “Thank you.” In their time with others, they can say, “Thank you.” People who have learned to surrender control and live with what is can simply pray to God, “Thank you, this was enough.”

This prayer is for those who are radically invested in life. It is for those who are ready to receive all of their life: their pain, their relationships, their doubts and say, “Thank you.” Happiness, true happiness, is a prayer and a state of being for the truly enlightened and transformed people who walk this earth.

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4 thoughts on “The Art of Happiness

  1. Hey Mike,
    Great read, I too wrote something similar with regards to Happiness v.s Joy and what true love looks like. http://5dailythanks.blogspot.com/2011/04/day-148-pursuit-of-happiness.html

  2. Meister Eckhart was Spanish? 😉

  3. Agree with Jordan: Juan de la Cruz / John of the Cross is the Spanish guy. Meister Eckhart is German.

  4. loved the story about baseball – I can only imagine how satisfying that felt!

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