Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lasting Happiness

My good friend, Dr. John Tamerin, recently gave a talk at the Fairfield (CT) Happiness Club titled, "Happiness: A Clinical Perspective Based on Being in Psychiatric Practice for 40 Years." The quotes below are from the introduction.

"First, you must realize that happiness is a gift. Most important, it is a gift which you can give to yourself, but it is a gift which needs to be refreshed on a regular basis. The kind of happiness that merely happens TO YOU will not last. Lasting Happiness requires effort.

"Every person who seeks my help as a doctor is in pain and everyone who sees me would like to be happy. Happiness, however, is more than the absence of pain. A wise Rabbi in Jerusalem addressed this issue when he asked me: 'What is the opposite of pleasure.?' I gave the predictable answer- 'Pain.' He said, 'No, the opposite of pleasure is comfort because if you insist on being comfortable you will never achieve pleasure (i.e. happiness) because happiness involves both effort and the willingness to confront discomfort and even pain in order to pursue true joy and meaning in your life.'

"His point and now mine is that to achieve happiness you must be willing to make an effort and to confront challenges and occasionally even demons. The path to happiness is not comfortable. Happiness does not just happen! It is not bestowed on any of us simply by being in the right place at the right time. That is merely good luck.

There is great wisdom in these words. Lasting happiness doesn't "just happen," but is a decision that involves effort and a willingness to risk pain and discomfort. Lasting happiness requires self-knowledge, gratitude and a welcoming attitude towards life. Lasting happiness is not based on the changeable circumstances of life, but on nourishing the inner self, the soul.

Nearly everyone says they want to be happy, but not everyone is willing to put forth the effort and to endure the pain that lasting happiness requires.

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