I was watching a documentary about India which followed a man who pulled a rickshaw in order to earn a living. He stated that in the summer his head and feet hurt from the sun, but found the winter and its monsoons to not be as bad even though he regularly got soaked. He and his family lived in a home constructed of sticks and branches arranged in a tall A-shape, three-fourths covered by a blue tarpaulin. He stated that it was a nice home, with the one side open to the breezes, although the monsoon rains coming in could be a problem. Sometimes all they had to eat was rice with some salt and yet he didn’t view himself as poor… because he was happy.
What would you say is happiness? Is it just getting our way? Is it being able to buy anything to which we are attracted? Is it not having to work? I would posit that happiness is a certain contentment with one’s life which is dependent upon an acceptance of where we are right now. This does not imply passivity or the lack of a dream for one’s life or of having nothing left to accomplish. It means being at peace with where you are right now no matter where that is or how you got there.
The fact is that happiness is not exterior to the self or dependent upon circumstances. It is not a commodity to purchase in a store or online. Happiness is found within the self, within the heart. Happiness is an orientation of the heart. An interviewer once made the comment to the blind Helen Keller, “Ms. Keller, it must be hard being blind.” Her response was a revelation: “It would be if I had no Vision because we really see with our hearts.”
The key to Ms. Keller’s wisdom was having accepted that her eyes did not work as they should and not wasting time railing against the sight that she lacked, but instead to determinedly grow in happiness with what she had. What she shows us is that happiness is a choice. Happiness is based upon acceptance of where we are even when there is further to go, of how we are even when there is further to grow and of who we are even when there is more to know. Did you choose to be happy today?