Every human wants to be happy. All our hopes are directed toward the state of everlasting happiness. However, the perfect state of everlasting happiness is the privilege of gods and the insane ones.
It is important to never forget just how dynamic life actually is. Because of that any state of everlasting existence cannot be sustained. Even at the time of death your consciousness wont stand still, it will travel through the broad space of dynamic Universe.
In the world of constant change, happiness continually comes and goes from our lives. In doing so, it is never present as much as we would like it to be. Even so, it is with us more than we think it is, at least until we replace it with comfort.
Equating happiness and comfort is a very common misconception in our lives.
Lets carefully examine each category in order to notice the difference.
We are happy when everything is in order. It’s a very clean and simultaneously transient state of existence. We are also happy when we find ourselves resonating with our surrounding. Consequently, emotional charge is getting stronger and thus creates the sense of comfort.
Realization of our desires is also filled with happiness. After their fulfillment, comfort and pleasure arrive as additional effects of happiness. As human beings we are culturally programmed to “tie” happiness for goals that are, among other things, mostly of material nature. Goals themselves don’t bring happiness but rather that “passing effect” of comfort and pleasure.
Lets assume you want to own a new Mercedes. Lets assume your wish came true. You know what is going to happen after that. For a certain period of time you will drive the new car through the city and show it to your friends with excitement. Not far after that the new Mercedes will slowly become a norm and routine in your life. Is this the example of true happiness? The answer is, of course, negative. The example shows us momentary comfort and pleasure mixed with our fulfillment of ego.
Now imagine that you built that same Mercedes. How would you feel then? Probably a lot better than when you purchased it. Only when human’s own creativity flows over into achieving of goals, only then he comes to his true source of own happiness. The very act of creation makes the creator feel like the object of his creation is “more his” then when he just purchased it – because of that the creator experiences a higher level of happiness.
In the context of goals, the largest problem refers to false belief how achieving them, on its own, will bring us toward true happiness. Truth is a bit different. The process of creation that is directed toward reaching a goal brings a lot more happiness than receiving the final gift. Unless it’s a struggle for survival, achieving goals will never bring you as much happiness as the creative efforts invested in reaching them. Of course if you are lost in the desert and desperate to find an oasis, then your goal is very defined and set – its survival, nothing should be added to it.
On the other hand, our desires are usually and mostly about material goods. For example lets say that you are working an uninteresting and boring job while saving money for a small boat. Every week you set aside a certain amount of money, which brings you closes and closer to your goal.
Believe it or not, the very process of setting money aside awakens certain happiness that is directly connected to the correctness of your path. You know well enough that you want the boat because then you can go fishing with friends and that, without a doubt, will bring a large amount of pleasure.
In that process of continuous approach to the goal, fighting, suffering and enduring, whether you are aware of it or not, your being is in the state of bliss because you are moving through certain and right paths toward achieving your dreams. Remember the famous quote from John Lennon: ”To me personally… It was much more interesting to become one (member of Beatles), then to be one!”
A lot of successful people feel the same way when they reach major life milestones. Of course, they are delighted by achieving a goal – but at the same time a certain feeling of “emptiness” follows that achievement. The conquest of Mount Everest brings a lot of happiness to the climbers. Enjoying the view from the top brings comfort and pleasure.
Unfortunately the pleasure and satisfaction are quick to disappear, melt like the snow in the spring. Therefore it would be better if we would focus on true happiness, rather than comfort and pleasure. And happiness, in its purest and refined form, can be found in the process of creation. While the architect constructs structures, every moment of creation brings him happiness. Once the construction is done, he begins to admire his own creation which brings comfort and pleasure.
One more feature of happiness is its collective nature. When two people derive happiness from the same source, when they are happy because of same reasons, the overall happiness increases. Aligning with another person makes us experience the unity between us and that strengthens our happiness. Exchange transcends individuality.
Now lets look at the different types of happiness and their following effects like comfort and pleasure on the example of a surgeon and dancer in the discotheque.
High pitched music roars through the discotheque. Dancer throws himself around the dance floor, lost in ecstasy. Looking at him you would probably think: ”The man is truly happy”. You would probably be right. Please, don’t attach his happiness to the drugs or alcohol. For the purposes of this article, they are completely irrelevant.
The dancer is located in the perfect setting, the perfect moment of time. On some basic level, everything is exactly the way it should be. Music. Atmosphere. Coherence and unity with other people in the environment and on the dance floor. Strong emotional reaction that represents pure comfort and pleasure is inevitable.
At the same time, in the hospital on the other side of the city, a surgeon is involved in the complex operation that will take several hours and should save the patient from certain death. Is he happy? Actually he is, even if he doesn’t seem like that. Doctor is not deriving his happiness from euphoria like the dancer but rather creative process of solving a problem on the very border of his personal abilities. It’s a state of correctness as the fundamental origin of happiness.
Upon successful completion of the surgery, completely exhausted, the doctor can relax with relief. While thinking about the great job he has done, his being is filled with strong sense of comfort and pleasure.
One might object to this thesis by saying that the surgeons happiness depends on the outcome of the operation: “Had the operation ended tragically, with the patient dead, the doctor would never have felt that way.” The truth is that tragedy would eliminate any possibility of post-operative comfort and pleasure. However, the outcome, whatever it may be, will never endanger the true happiness that the surgeon experienced while dealing with his work of art.
Naturally, we are not talking about orgasmic feelings of the dancer. Its about happiness induced by the presence of current moment where we come to the top of personal creativity and when everything is as it should be. Conversely, a doctor struggling for the life of his patient, he who relies on all his knowledge and experience is an example of the top of creative existence.
Actually we are not talking about two different types of happiness since both of them, in essence, are very similar. They both represent an example of people present at the right time.
There is no doubt that the experience surgeon got from the operation and the exchange of that experience with his colleagues will create a sense of unity and will last longer from ecstasy dancer took – he will wake up tomorrow morning with a hangover and severe depression. His pleasure simply wont last as long as surgeons.
However, several hours prior both of them lived present in “their moment”. They were both truly happy. Therefore, it is important to remember that it does not matter what you do, but how you do it. If you are on the right path, developing your desires and you feel everything is fine, then you are as it should be and you are truly happy.
Don’t try then to turn those feelings into comfort or pleasure since that process will inevitably ruin all that. Don’t worry, comfort and pleasure will surely come, once your wishes come true.
Until then, do not waste your time in vain. Be happy!
Ruben Papian – architect, healer and psychologist, expert that helps people and companies with his advices in the time of crisis, personal and organizational development, strategy when controlling changes. He is especially appreciated among young people because of his challenging, inspiring and provocative stances about life and death.
Source: “Increatus – Istinska sreća” 2006 November, Croatia