What Really Makes Us Happy?

by Jan on April 11, 2011

“If the better elements of the mind which lead to order and philosophy prevail, then we can lead a life here in happiness and harmony, masters of ourselves.” — Plato, Greek Philosopher

When I read the quote above, I was inspired by the thought of happiness and harmony. Yes, that sounds wonderful. A master of myself? Sure! Does it sound like a like a lot of work? Is it worth pursuing?

I think it depends whether the payoff is worth it. For me, it is.

New York Times journalist David Brooks’ new book, “The Social Animal,” informs us of the latest in scientific knowledge. He explains, “We are primarily the products of thinking that happens below the level of awareness.”

Are we are a jumble of beliefs, attitudes and judgments in our unconscious mind?

Maybe so.

Brooks quotes impressive scientists as they set out to prove that “while the outer mind hungers for status, money and applause, the inner mind hungers for harmony and connection—those moments when self-consciousness fades away and a person is lost in a challenge, a cause, the love of another or the love of God.”

This resonates with me.

I have had both experiences—the inner and outer. Applause and status, at one time motivated me, but never brought me happiness and harmony. It is the inner work that has been the most fulfilling.

Unconditional Love
There was a time when I gave up hoping for a grandchild. I didn’t dwell on it, but I had given up the dream. It was one of the many places I had not put thoughts of HOPE.

Then came the birth of my grandchildren. I met each newborn a few hours after their birth. Nothing compares to the electric feeling that went through my body after taking them in my arms and holding their hand for the first time. As I spoke, welcoming them into our world, each of them turned to look me directly in the eyes, as if they really understood the role we would play in our lives together.

There is no rational explanation for the spontaneous depth of this love. It comes from a place of mystery, or what leading scientists call our unconscious mind — the place that few of us can fathom.

HOPE is not the only answer to the many conundrums in life, but for me, it is one of the easiest, surest and most accessible ways to open our hearts to what we most desire.

From my standpoint, HOPE is a virtue, an emotion and a clear, yet winding path to happiness and harmony.

•  What are your hopes for harmony and happiness?
•  Have you achieved them?

Please let me know.