Desiderata by Max Ehrmann is a 1927 prose poem. "Desiderata" (Latin: "desired things")
23. Strive to be happy.
Strive - make great efforts to achieve or obtain something.
Imagine, again, being in your twenties and learning that being happy requires striving! Effort! Energy! Definition!
This instruction seems to be that one should choose to use one's energies to achieve happiness. Striving to be happy requires work and making choices as to how we choose to respond to situations. Happiness is based on how we choose to think, feel, behave and react to situations in our lives. On the flip side, unhappiness is also based on how we choose to think, feel, behave and react to situations in our lives.
Being in a state of neutrality is okay. It's a starting point. It is a position from which we can choose to strive to be happy. We have to identify what's going on - especially if it's visceral - and how we're choosing to think about it.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that sometimes we consciously or willingly strive to be unhappy. Actually, it seems like, at times, unhappiness chooses us. We, then, find ourselves searching for those happiness seeds to germinate.
Someone once said that you cannot recognize the counterfeit if you don't know how to identify the authentic. I think that recognizing and identifying the feeling and the thinking behind the feeling is the first step. We can ask ourselves, “What am I feeling?” and “How is my thinking influencing how I'm feeling?”
Okay. So how do we strive to be happy? What do we need to know about how our thinking and feeling influence our happiness? I've thought about this instruction off and on throughout my life. As I referred to earlier, I've read a lot of self-help books along the way. Happiness is an overall sense of well-being, i.e. internal peace, that comes from maintaining an equilibrium of external circumstances. I have several “grounding” meditations I go to guide my attitude toward life to maintain this equilibrium.
I germinate my seeds of happiness by planting them in my blessings and watering them with gratitude. Gratitude for everything - no matter how small or seemingly incidental or inconsequential! I've placed my seeds in a secret cache. I find them through deep contemplation of what I value, what I know, and what I've learned to be true.
Striving to be happy allows us to continue to acquire, through our living, knowledge and understanding on which to build happiness while humbly acknowledging all we'll never know about the world and the universe. Striving to be happy is managing what we do know.
Thank you for reading. What are your thoughts?
Dedicated to my sons Jibri and Chris, my privilege and blessing. EcwmB