Monday, June 28, 2010

The illusive happiness

Question : (Unedited)
I have a great wife and child, a steady job (in Texas), good health, a nice house, etc. - all the things that should make me happy - and I am satisfied. But I feel a kind of burn-out from work though (as a software engineer for 20+ years and I'm good at my job). I've been reading a lot this last few years on "happiness" which has brought me into more in line with Buddhist thinking. My question is: how do you keep your motivation to do things (working, cleaning house, etc.) when you lose your desires? I just feel like sitting around and thinking - I'm not depressed (on the contrary I'm rather content) but I'm not sure how to keep myself motivated to go to work anymore. I read a statement that I have been pondering - it is that unhappy people are the ones that make the most accomplishments (inventions, new medical treatments, writing books, etc.) in the world because they don't like the way it is and want to change into something "better." What do you think? Is it that I am becoming more happy and losing desires and eliminating negative emotions that make me uninterested in my work anymore? Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.
My comment:
Hi B...,
It's interesting to note that you have everything and yet not very happy.  Just think of those who don't even have the bare essentials to live a decent life.

Happiness is dependent on experiencing something that one desires.  It is conditional, which means some factors must be present before happiness is felt.  Happiness that is dependent on some things cannot last forever. It is a self-fulfilling phenomenon.  Once the person is satisfied and happy with something, immediately that desire for happiness is fulfilled.  Then the next thing you know is that you start a new search for another condition to be happy again.  It is just like hunger.  Once you have consumed the food, the desire to eat no longer exists.  That is why people around the world are acting crazy chasing one thing after the other so as to "stay" happy.  This is what we called uncontrolled desires.  Most people are caught in this quagmire.  It's like a puppy chasing after its own tail.  

I don't think unhappy people are more creative than the happy ones. I would say, unhappy people are unfortunate ones because most likely conditions are not sympathetic to them.  The happy ones are those whose needs are fulfilled and other conditions favour them as well.  Take for example, if one lives in a war torn country, can one be happy?  If one's children are very irresponsible, can one be happy?  Take your case, you should be happy, and infact you are still happy as you said you are only "losing desires".

In Buddhist wisdom, happiness is a bonus.  As I wrote above, happiness is a conditional experience.  If we depend on happiness alone to cheer up our lives, then we are in for disappointment.  At any time those happy conditions may disappear or lose its stimulation.  At best once the condition is right for you to be happy, your desire is satisfied; and you have to search for other conditions to make you happy again.  Then what should we look for?  Contentment and acceptance.  If we can be contented with what we have, there is no crazy desire to chase for more in order to be happy.  Once you are contented, your happiness does not depend on more things.  You are satisfied with what you already have and you experience contentment, inner peace and happiness.  A lot of external conditions are beyond our control.  They can make us extremely unhappy.  But if we understand the real conditions of this existence and this world, then we still can maintain a certain degree of calmness and inner peace, despite being unhappy.  It is the realization and acceptance of those conditions that we cannot control or change.

On another note; how can we be happy all the time, especially if unhappy event happens? If a person’s loved one dies, can that person try to be happy? That would be crazy!

Don't worry be happy!

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