Twisty Thursday: Philosophical Musings Vol. 3

This week Thursday sneaked up on me.  I’ve apparently been in a bit of a time-warp, because I forgot what day it was!

Since, thus far, this week has been all about me, I thought I’d talk about a commonly asked philosophical-type question, and then offer my own answer.  I hope that my regular lurker/commenter crowd will jump in and comment with their own points of view.

With all the despair, disgust, hatred, murder, suicide, war, hunger, jealousy, etc., etc., in the world, it’s easy to become enamored with the idea that true happiness just does not exist.

We tend to live our lives ever striving and seeking and reaching for the carrots, only to find that the carrot is far out of our reach.  Or, if we do get the carrot, we look out onto the horizon and see a juicy, perfectly cooked steak; suddenly that carrot is not quite as appealing as the steak, so we toss it aside and are off and running again.

When we realize how hard it is to get to the steak, we’re back to wishing for the carrot again.

It seems as if we live our lives always searching for greener pastures.

Hi!

Don’t get me wrong, the thrill of the chase and triumph of success are incredibly motivating.  They can drive people to do amazing things.

But they are often not completely fulfilling.  It seems that something is missing.

What do you do, when you have a great job making great money…but you know, deep down, that it just isn’t who you really are?

Hey...that's not a key!

This brings me to my question:  What, really, is the “Key to happiness?”

Well, heck.  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Crap…why am I even here? Well, that’s clearly another Twisty Thursday question for another time.

You see, I’m 31 years old.  Amazingly, at any age we find ourselves, we tend to think we understand so much more about the world, life, and its great mysteries than we really do.  I’d like to think that I’m so very wise, but really my world-view is only as large as my experiences and ability to process what I’ve seen and done.

So, in answering this question, I can only tell you what wise-ish Dr. Pretzel knows right now.  However, in 10 or 20 years, my answer will likely have changed.  I might read this post then and laugh at just how foolish I was.

So, I’ll try to answer it anyhow, based solely on what I know and who I am right this moment.  But the answer I give to you today is only my answer for today.  Ask me again next year and we’ll see if the answer has changed.

We are ever-evolving and changing in our quest to find true peace in our hearts.  But peace cannot be found in running towards or away.  It can only be found in knowing that, even while chasing after a dream or idea, you are right where you ought to be in this very moment.

Today my answer is thus:  The key to happiness is living authentically, shamelessly, and as a person of worth RIGHT NOW.

Well, that sounds pretty enough, but what the heck does it mean?

  • Living authentically simply means that you don’t censor who you really are and what you really think for anyone.  Your actions are truly you, driven by your heart-mind-understanding (shu, for you Confucius fans).  This does not mean that you must be hurtful to others, but that you recognize that constant capitulation to the needs and wants of others, even when you’re just trying to make them happy, is hurtful to you.

A side note to living authentically is the understanding that you cannot make others happy if they are not willing to live authentically themselves.  In attempting to guide them, you will end up stuck in their orbit of drama and low self worth.  Take care with these people.

  • Living shamelessly is sort of an off-shoot of living authentically.  It means that you make your choices based upon what is authentically and truly you, regardless of the expectations or judgments of others.  Wisely, but without fear of vulnerability.  Who cares if someone says “no,” or another shuts a door in your face?  It means not being afraid of failure, but meeting it head-on, with fervor.  It means finding happiness not in what others think you should be, but who you think you ought to be.  Shameless people tend to step right on outside the box and find their way, off the beaten path, with a machete.

Think of someone you really admire.  It’s likely that the reason you find that person admirable is because they are doing what most people are afraid to do:  Living authentically shameless lives.  They have accepted who they are and are making their way on their own terms.

  • Living as a person of worth is like a beautiful bow on this package, because it’s really not possible to live authentically or shamelessly if you do not consider yourself to be worthy of the actions you are taking.  You cannot be “real” and authentic if you are ashamed of who you are, nor can you find worth in yourself if you are inauthentic.  They are a triad, each in need of the other to stand with strength.  Truly, worthiness is the most important of these three:  Making the statement “I am worthy of happiness” and meaning it is the cornerstone of authenticity and shamelessness.

Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries (actually a bowl of cherries for me pretty much sucks, because I’m allergic to the delicious little buggers).  We often find ourselves lost down a path that we didn’t even know we chose.  We wonder how to escape it, how to go back, how to make it better.

Sometimes we have to accept that we can’t go back.  We cannot live in the past and dwell on regrets.  We can only get out that machete and, starting now, hack our own paths.

For me, true happiness lies in getting off the beaten path, with my machete, and cutting my own.  I know that it is hard work, that I will get bruised, sweaty, and likely end up with poison ivy, but I also know that the path will be mine.

Whatever path you take or make, I hope that you find within yourself the authenticity, shamelessness, and self-worth it will take to make that path your own.

I’d love to hear what you have to say.  What is your Key to Happiness?  Do you know what it is, or are you still searching?  Share with me your own philosophies.

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About DrPretzel

Student of philosophy and medicine, mother of 2 Creatures of Mass Destruction (a.k.a. "boys"), Soldier, sister, daughter, friend, cat person, social inept, INTJ, blah, blah, blah...are you even reading this?
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11 Responses to Twisty Thursday: Philosophical Musings Vol. 3

  1. Brian Gillum says:

    What I have learned about happiness is that it is completely within you to be as high or low on the scale of happiness. Granted there are some certain circumstances which can and do take away from our happiness. This is natural. But also natural is that we get beyond that. When we wallow in sadness and not allow our happiness to return it is of our own choice. Generally when some person or event takes away from our happiness, it is because we allowed it to happen.

    Happiness itself is not ever a guarantee. It is noted that along with our life and our liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness is an an inalienable right endowed to us by our Creator (or as a universal law of human existence if you hold no truck with any form of an amporphous Creator). So even our Creator can’t guarantee us happiness in this mortal existence. That should seem pretty significant.

    Now continuing on the meta-physical for a moment, the Bhudda suggests that all of this existence is unreal and is just full of misery. Any happiness, joy or pleasure that we may experience is fleeting and only leads back to misery. While the Bhudda is a great philosopher and appears to have made some absolutely wonderful insights into the human experience, I disagree with the idea of all is misery. How is it possible to KNOW that one has attained Nirvanic bliss if one chooses to NOT experience life with both the joys and the sorrows? To live such an aesthetic life is nothing more than mere existence and not true Living. One cannot really know Yang without also knowing Yin.

    After all of that do I know the key to happiness? No. I am as clueless to being permanently happy as the next person. I only know that ultimately I am the one in control of how happy I am or am not…and that I also have some control over the amount of time that the happiness level remains where it is at. I don’t care if happiness is fleeting. I don’t care if I become somewhat sorrowful once a particular happy event has passed I would much rather have one moment than not have had the moment at all.

    Humbly submitted for your considersation by the Warrior Poet Philosopher King.

  2. Majeh85 says:

    This is gonna sound a little pessimistic, but it’s been a while since I really felt truly happy, that deep down “this is right” type of feeling. I don’t know what I need in order to try and get it, I have a few ideas, but I am always looking. Some of the ideas I’ve tried out, with terrible results, and have yet to try again or decide if I wish to discard them all together, not all of them just the ones that failed. So I guess I’m saying I don’t know what happiness is anymore, I know it’s definition and I’ve felt somethings very close to it, but nothing that has felt complete.

    • drpretzel says:

      Not so much pessimistic as realistic.

      You’ll find your way, just keep in authentically, shamelessly, and wholeheartedly YOU.

      • Charisse says:

        I agree. 🙂 We like that authentic YOU! 🙂 Before you know it, things will pick up again!

  3. Charisse says:

    Happiness for me? I think I would have said pretty much what you did, though not so well! 🙂
    The only thing I would add is an awareness of which goals truly make us happy. Carrots and steaks rarely do. 😉 Neither do big screen TVs or BMWs; not true happiness, not eudaemonia. So we need to be careful to classify our goals between the hedonistic and the virtuous. Both are needed, neither is bad in-and-of itself. The only negative aspect to these things, is when we do not shape our expectations accordingly. We must be aware that the hedonistic goals will only make us happy temporarily, and that the virtuous goals may not make us happy right away, but they pay off in the long run. An investment vs a splurge, to out it in financial terms. But unlike financial interest, eudaemonia grows exponentially.
    For me a large part of what makes me happy is to make others happy. And again, the struggle for me is to make sure I’m making them happy in ways that pay off well, and last. Adding to the eudaemonia of others is a good goal, so long as it does not cost you your own.

    One very interesting article …on research I wish I had kept a record of now…
    Said that the one thing that leads best to success (and I’d assume happiness) is delayed gratification. 🙂

  4. Brian Gillum says:

    Very meaty. I am cogitating on a reply. Didn’t want you to thinking missed this one. More soon

  5. The DA says:

    Love this!! You couldn’t of posted this at a more “needed” time for me! Thank you for sharing this. (it goes right along with our previous conversation which I have yet to make it back too for reading. 😦 )

    Even at my age, I am still trying to figure it all out for myself and I’m finding it such a struggle. I have so many questions but yet no answers. At times I feel overwhelmed with the thought of the process and the time it will take to answer my own questions. I think patience is going to be a key thing for me to learn on this journey. lol

  6. Riley Carson says:

    If you stretched this out into several pages, you could make millions writing a self help book!

    • drpretzel says:

      Well, there’s an idea I’d not thought of! However, considering how much I have yet to learn, I’m afraid that I am not yet fully equipped!

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