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The Pursuit of Happiness

Happy independence day to everybody in the US. The Declaration of Independence is a remarkable document. Its preample sums it up: " We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness ". Read it twice: " pursuit of Happiness". A common critique of today's United States is that "happiness" gets confused with "property". Common wisdom says " You can't buy happiness" (while Garfield thinks you rent it). But what is happiness? Since it is mentioned as a fundamental right equal to Life and Liberty it is worth to have a look. Luckily there are sufficient words to explain the different aspects (while in German we only have one word " Glück"). Lets have a look and start with Søren Kierkegaard who is attributed with " The unhappy person is never present to themself because they always live in the past or the future". This is in line with The Buddha's teachings: " Here and Now" or the advice from the peaceful warrior: " Whenever attention wanders to regrets or anxieties, come back to the present with this reminder: Here and now, breathe and relax.". Being in the here and now you can recognise five types of happiness (in no particular order):
  • Community: Love, relationships, being with family, friends, kids and loved ones. Appreciate, foster, procreate
  • Serendipity: Opportunities, funny encounters, the lottery ticket that wins, the coin on the street. See, encounter, enjoy
  • Pleasure: The piece of chocolate, the new car, the cool beer in the hot afternoon (small doses work better than more of it). Take your time, sense, indulge
  • Flow: Challenge yourself, leave your comfort zone. Flow, grow
  • Bliss: Beauty of nature, the unexpected smile, connected to the creator. Endure the silence, experience nature, be - don't act (the Chinese would say 无为 - Wu Wei)
(adopted from Glück kommt selten allein .. by Eckart von Hirschhausen).
Serendipity is the most unreliable, pleasure the easiest to achieve and the first to turn shallow, flow the gate to bliss and community the foundation and goal. The Buddha for a reason offers refuge to " Buddha, Dharma, Sangha" (The Enlightened One, the teachings and the community).

Happy independence day!

Posted by on 04 July 2010 | Comments (2) | categories: After hours


  1. posted by Kevin Pettitt on Tuesday 06 July 2010 AD:
    Thank you Emoticon smile.gif
  2. posted by Erik Brooks on Tuesday 06 July 2010 AD:
    I cannot thank you enough for posting this.

    May you find happiness also.