♥ - Happiness as a choice?

Submitted by freedom on
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I've been bothered by this for a while. I thought I posted about this before, but I can't find it. It's philosophical and perhaps there is no one answer. It seems the whole world is happiness obsessed. But perhaps I don't get it and someone can enlighten me.

I'm read The Untethered Soul. Nothing too shocking as I've been at all this a while. Yet, I'm puzzled by the suggested choice of unconditional happiness. When I see this concept in print, I start to question the other wisdom I read. The book proposes the choice to be unconditionally happy as the only choice we need to make in life. Then everything else can naturally follow. There is much discussion in the book about letting the You sit inside and observe the inner and outer goings on. The You who hears the inner voice making the observations. The real You. To make little judgment and let the good and bad pass through without storing it up inside where it creates blockages. Even the good can create blockages. This enables full presence. I see this as genuineness. Genuine presence. Presence without choice or constraint. Presence like a tree. I see the choice to be happy as not much better than the choice to be angry, sad, or favor any other emotion. Sure, it may be better to choose to be happy than miserable in the present. But is that better than no choice at all? Is one somehow unhappy with full presence? If full presence is not happy, is that less than being happy? I find I can be at my core quite content being miserable. I can honor my misery just as I can honor joy.

Does an infant/child choose to be happy? Yet, the infant/child appears happy.

Then there is a questionable presumption that God and the spiritual world is happy? Who says? Might God (assuming existence as this book does) be neutral. When a child plays house, the child is not necessarily happy. When a person writes a novel, they are not necessarily happy. Once again it seems that there is an arbitrary bias toward a happy God and that this suggests humans must choose happiness to connect to the spiritual realm. There is also a bias that the spiritual realm is happy and connection to it will make us happy.

Granted trees grow toward light. But is that a choice? Does that analogy have any value to the situation given the non-rational nature of trees? Or should be live more like trees? Be with our biology and not our minds?

Has happiness been used in conflicting and confusing ways? The base emotion might be glad. Glad may not lead to being happy. Happiness is a later state that one may not get to.

Happy seems to have no bounds. You can always want more happiness. Genuineness is self-limiting. You can only be your true self. Do we need something to reach for? Is happiness just a construct to guide our path? Or is happiness a grand illusion? The Stormy Search for the Self talks about how spiritual emergence and emergency are often hampered, delayed, and damaged by the mental health professionals who don't understand what is happening to the person. Might the happiness obsession be a cause? It seems to astonish and even trouble people when I talk of genuineness over happiness. I can't be the first person. Any books on point? Didn't Descartes struggle with irrational elements of his faith? Does that imply that he might have been better off accepting his genuine self, faith included, in the moment? Is that not what he ultimately did?

There are other issues such as law of attraction beneifts to choosing to react in a happy way. But this book seems to suggest a projected happiness. Law of attraction does as well. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding both. This book suggests that no matter what life throws your way, you remain happy. The reaction of happiness seems an outgrowth of the projected choice to be happy. That projection detracts from presence. On the other hand, what does genuineness attract? What if your geneuine self attracts what you don't want? Is if possible to be genuine and have wants outside your genuineness? Can you choose to be happy without projection?

Is the goal of happiness compatible with genuineness. I would think being happy at the loss of a loved one is not reflecting the inner You. It is a mask in another form.

The book ends with a discussion of the Tao. That balanced centeredness suggest genuineness over happiness. Ultimately, I'm left confused. Let the genuineness shine in.


Those questions are complicated

Think of it in reverse - can someone *make* you happy, if you don't choose to be? Only you can. You choose to be happy.

Here's someone that quoted the book you're reading and has their own interpretation of the concept.


"If you need to condition your happiness, at least choose a condition that you can control. Don’t place your happiness in the hands of someone else, something else, some external uncontrollable force. Take responsibility for your happiness. You are not a victim, no one is. Accept what is, not what ‘should be’, ‘could be’, ‘might be’. If we stop qualifying our lives, we can start experiencing them. And in the end… that’s really what it’s all about."


From the Addams Family:
Gomez: Unhappy darling?
Morticia: Oh, yes. Yes, completely.

Make you happy

[quote=Quizure]Think of it in reverse - can someone *make* you happy, if you don't choose to be? Only you can. You choose to be happy.

No one can make you happy if you choose to be unhappy. But if you choose genuineness, then you are as you react. Then, happiness is like laughter. You don't choose. It just happens. You don't walk around choosing to laugh or choosing not to laugh. It's hard to repress laughter. It's hard to repress happiness if it is genuine. But choosing happiness before it happens? Is that like going to a comedy show where many jokes are bad? You might laugh, but is it an illusion?

As for the quote, projecting victim, shoulds, coulds, and mights is not genuine because one only is what is. But one can indeed be genuinely unhappy. Those feelings are sign posts. One would put a hand on a hot stove and say choose to feel cold. One would feel the heat and make a change toward something colder. The answer is in our reaction. I'm not sure that reaction is wrong if one chooses to move the stove instead of themselves.


I don't agree it is a choice, unless you isolate yourself from all people. Happiness depends a lot on the people who surround you. If you are more successful than your friends then you will be also happier. I don't know where you are from, but try to explore happiness in other countries. Especially if you go to South East Asia you start really wonder how those people who have absolutely nothing can be happy. When you arrive there, indeed, you feel kind of happier, you just want to put your flipflops on and enjoy the sun and cheap clubs, pubs, food, people, etc.

Other societies which rank high in happiness are North European. I lived in Finland for a few years. It is an egalitarian society with lots of security and health benefits. Even if you totally screw up your life there will be someone to help you and support you. You feel yourself very secured and indeed happier. People's salary don't hugely vary; taxes are much higher once you earn more. Is such redistribution fair? Probably not. On the other extreme , for example, in China, where I live now a factory worker can earn few hundred RMB per month when a low class communist party member can get over 50,000 RMB per month=> it's a huge difference. Are people in China happy? No.

Bottom line, I think happiness is conditional. Only a combination of several specific elements will make you feel happier. The challenge is that these specific elements may vary from person to person. Some elements can help you to feel happier, such as money and environment. I am sure you agree that you will feel happier if you know that you earn more money than most of the people you know, but of course it's not the key element of happiness. Tho, happiness can be also a choise, I think if you will start looking for these elements which make you happy then you should get somewhere quite close.

An interesting approach.

An interesting approach. Rather than focus on changing your environment to suit you in a never ending fashion, focus on changing your environment to discover what you need so you can then make inner changes? A back to basics biofeedback approach? Or am I misreading your words and you are advocating for external changes?


This issue came up in my meditation this morning. In Love, Freedom, Aloneness: The Koan of Relationships Osho proposes that we make that choice, to choose bliss. I'm now reading A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield who makes a good argument for genuiness that brings happiness. They both use happiness as a test of the choice you make concerning a spiritual practice. If it makes you happy, you're probably on the right track.
When someone comes to me in pain, asking for my help, I start with genuiness: Where is it? How does it feel? Define it, know it to its finest detail. Does it speak to you? What does it say? How does it ask you to move? Kornfield notes that as you examine/embrace a particular aspect, it will change. It's the nature of our reality. I ask the aspirant to look for other ways to do the task, think about the issue (Anat Baniel Method)....and then choose the one that doesn't hurt. This is not a cover-up, ala "Trust me, take this pill and it'll be ok". Examination and genuiness come first. From genuiness we have choice. Choose love.
Why? 'cause I said so!

Anat Baniel Method looks

Anat Baniel Method looks interesting. I'll check that out more.

I can buy genuineness before happiness, but I'm not convinced of the happiness choice. Maybe A Path With Heart will get me there. I just need a method to make the day 25 hours.


In Buddhism, they say the greatest thing you can do is wish for happiness for *others* and to also be grateful for all the goodness in your life, whatever that is, even if you can only think of one thing.

I have never seen happiness as a *goal* for myself. That almost seems narcissistic, as though that would mean I somehow *deserve* it. At this stage in my life, being grateful and finding peace within myself is what gives me contentment (happiness?).

Also, the further I can keep negative energy away from me, the more at peace I feel. (and that especially involves what I read on the computer and watch on television--cable news is out, lol--and I have become very sensitive to being around those who put out negative vibrations)

I think a lot of it, too, has to do with the spin you put on something (which is entirely your choice)--it is very easy to see the negative side of a situation, but much harder to focus on the positive. But when you do the latter, you may find that it gives you much more peace or inner calmness, which means you can *breathe* and move forward, rather than staying stuck with your fixation on the negative. I know they did a study of people who had lived well into their 90s and the one thing they all seemed to have in common was their ability to stay positive, no matter how horrible the situation, and move on. My own grandmother is a good example of that and people just love to be around her because she gives off such a positive aura.


A dualism of genuine self

A dualism of genuine self affirmatively (positivity from genuineness) embracing other genuine selves that somehow creates non-dualistic increase in mutual happiness? Is that happiness inside or an energy outside the self?


I think it has to be inside and comes from within you (just as Diana Richardson and Osho talk about "you are love, love doesn't come to you").

And this is why it is so much easier to be in a relationship when you know this~~when you don't depend on "getting" love from someone, you find you get it anyway, because you are the source of the love to begin with.


To me

To me, they are. Love doesn't have to involve another human~~it can be for something you do, something you see, something you create, something you read, just about anything.


For me, they are the same

For me happiness is love, and that happiness is always available, if I choose it. I don't know where 'it' comes from but it feels as if it fills my heart, lungs, chest. It's not tiny, it's not delicate, it's big and strong. I've experimented with accessing a very "sad" state (the tragic death of a loved one) and allowed my self to fully feel despair, but I've been able to 'learn' to open to the feeling of love, and even in that tearful despairing state, the love still exists, and I am happy, even though I may "feel" sad that my friend died.


Happiness is a warm puppy.
-Charles Schultz

rediscovered and Quizure, if

rediscovered and Quizure, if happiness is love, then why not focus on love. Being (is that a choice?) unconditional love somehow makes more sense to me than choosing unconditional happiness. Maybe it is just semantics or maybe happiness has become more corrupted, commercialized, etc. Maybe because of the duality of being able to feel love and sadness or love and happiness

Remaining open might be an entirely different thing. Being open implies the ability to feel all that you are both core and momentary.

I don't know

Freedom, I'm thinking that most people might see happiness as a goal when it is actually a *by-product* of being love and giving love.


I'm confused. My gut says to

I'm confused. My gut says to reject the happiness choice and look further inward? If happiness is a byproduct or goal, you could choose happiness without genuine love. That seems stilted.

How does genuine unqualified love react to otherwise negative experiences? Water ripples when you toss something in? What does love do? Is this book suggesting happiness because the author couldn't find a way to express love? He's plenty expressive otherwise.

Since I haven't read the book~

I'm not sure about what you are asking.

I don't think you *can* choose happiness without genuine love. I think happiness comes when you give genuine love or radiate genuine love.

This is why even if you don't have a romantic partner, you can give your love in other ways, such as caring for animals, working with a charity, etc. And as a result, you will usually find yourself in a happy state when you do these things. Many single moms don't feel a need to find a mate while their children are young because they are giving love to their children and that's enough to make them very happy and at peace. And it is probably why being addicted to porn is such a miserable state of being--you are giving love to no one while isolating yourself from those who might enjoy receiving your love.



is clear physical feedback. I feel it in my body. I interpret it as "you're on the right track". Love is much more complex.

Anat Baniel

is a desciple of Moshe Feldenkrais. I like her book better than his. http://www.anatbanielmethod.com/move-into-life-the-book.html
Find a practitioner in either method and take some lessons (they're $10-12 each in our area). Ms. Baniel's method is basically the same as Dr. Feldenkrais' (as far as I can tell) but she's tweeked it just enough that the Feldenkrais Guild won't let her call it Feldenkrais.
Choice.....at any moment, when we are free from our addiction (how often is that? it seems to be a rare event that I am free to choose), we have many choices. What test do you apply? The strong one? The intriguing one? The one that twists your gut? The important one? WTF! given a choice, I choose the one that makes me genuinely smile.

I've found my day to be longer if I avoid the internet
Much love

Makes me melt!

How do you come up with these images, Quizure? So good for our mirror neurons!!! and our whole bodies :) !!!

"Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


I do know a genuine smile :)
If the choices don't make you smile, look again. For example, in Anat Baniel Method: after exploring movement of the painful shoulder, ask, "How are the ribs involved?" or "What are your toes doing?" There is always another way. There is always the option of laughing at my own seriousness and absurdity. And, of course there is Krishna's councel to Arjuna, "Do your duty".

My Birthright

OK, I'm a high maintenance kind of guy. It took 100 hugs in 4 hours to get me over the top (I think rediscovered does karezza for that long, gawd, what would that be like?). I am now enlightened and delighted (of light) even a week later.
Delight, pleasure, and happiness are my birthright. They are part of this body I inhabit. It is the default mode. If I
am not ready to smile (thank you Karen Poplawski, Feldenkrais Teacher) then I am choosing to do something else. It's then my choice to not be happy and at ease.
This is a HUGE change for me. I get excited when I see that I have time to meditate. I don't want anything from my spouse that she can't give me with ease. Every encounter with Izzy now, is a gift from me. When I hold her I am seeking to speak words of blessing and praise, and ways for the energy to flow in a healing way. The sexual pleasure is, just, there.....present in the encounter.
Delight, pleasure, and happiness are my birthright.

You could not say that,

it would not be part of our experience, if you had not shared your work with us. You and Gary's efforts have been key to unlocking my addiction and my freedom. Others proposed conservation of semen for reasons that never resonated with me. Your teachings cut right to the heart of my issues. Thank you, thank you, thank you