How most people would answer the three most important questions
(Click here to start this series from the beginning.)
Last time we saw why these three questions are the most important questions we can ask ourselves:
- What is the source or cause of happiness?
- What is the source or cause of unhappiness?
- When we are unhappy, how can we shift back to happiness?
My new thing …
Jack Handy, the well-known writer for Saturday Night Live, once said: “I think my new thing will be to try to be a real happy guy. I’ll just walk around being real happy until some jerk says something stupid to me.”
Why is this so funny? It’s because his grandiose resolution is just to do what he’s always done. To what nearly everyone does all the time. You just go around being happy as long as everything is going your way, and then you immediately become upset as soon as anything or anyone somehow crosses you. We all know exactly what he’s talking about, because we’ve all been there ourselves.
Typical answers to the three important questions
Jack Handy’s statement points to how most people would answer out three important questions.
1. What is the source or cause of happiness? Having all the right stuff and right conditions in your life. For instance, good health, a good relationship, enough money to do or buy whatever you want, people around you doing and saying the right things, etc. And perhaps also a good past, that was free of abusive and damaging situations, and free of guilt and regrets. Most people agree that it’s hard to be happy now if you were emotionally “wounded and scarred” in the past.
2. What is the source or cause of unhappiness? Not having all the right conditions in your life. Or even worse, having exactly the wrong conditions in your life. For instance, not having great health or a great body; not having the perfect relationship or partner; not having enough money to get everything you want. Having people around you do the wrong things (treat you unfairly; be nasty or rude or disrespectful; try to cheat you); having a bad history (being abused by others, and/or making your own seemingly irreparable mistakes).
3. How shift from happiness back to happiness? Fix or change the world and others and your circumstances, at least to whatever extent is practical and possible. Of course, much of the unhappy stuff in your past may not be fixable, since it has already happened. We tend to believe that a done deal can’t always be undone. And the upshot of all of this is that perfect happiness may well be impossible for you. Most people tend to believe that they must settle for a limited degree of happiness, and that only some of the time.
As we look more deeply at happiness, we will discover that it is precisely the belief that our happiness and unhappiness depend on the world that is the source of all of our unhappiness. (To be continued …)