Only My Opinions

-The Problem is +The Solution

It is very late on a Tuesday night. Traces of the weekend loc’tion vibe are hovering somewhere near zero – at least until Sheila’s day in two days’ time, when the fervor of kasi life returns to the beautiful Vosloorus again. As for this moment, I am sitting at my desk trying to write down what I can recall of the most interesting moments of my day.

I am so full of smiles at the thought of what someone said to me today, and how some tricky situation turned out better than I thought.  My smiles are partly about the things that actually happened during the day today. The other part is just my profound amusement at the ability to sit here in the middle of the night, many hours and kilometers away from the places where those beautiful things happened, and still experience their reality with so much clarity that I could even smile – to myself.

To be happy in life, one needs people, things, places and moments wherein happy things could happen. Equally important to our happiness, is to create moments in which to savor the things that have gone right in our lives. This is how we affirm to ourselves that we were successful in achieving the happiness we had set out to look for, out there in the day, in the situations of our lives.

Happiness is the reason we ever move from one place to another, or reach out to each other through our different forms of communication. It is the reason we ever do anything at all; our primary pursuit in life and the very purpose for wanting to stay alive.

There are only two places in life where we could ever find happiness; within or outside of ourselves. Within, is in our minds; in our awareness, memories, imaginations, our thoughts, decisions as well as in our bodies and in the things we can do with them. On the outside, happiness could be found in the surrounding environment; from other people, things, places or situations. Our happiness therefore, comes either from the self or the others.

The most immediate form of happiness, as well as most important –  is from the self – within. This is the happiness of being. We experience it from the things we already have – most of which we always have – before we decide to relate to others. They are such things as good health, a peaceful mind and being content, among others. Most importantly, the happiness of being is in our ability to control our perspectives regarding the things we perceive around us or conceive within our thoughts, including the meaning we attach to each one of them.

We interact with our world through our sense perceptions. We receive stimuli that goes to the mind and become our thoughts. We explore the different perspectives of any one thing, until we find the one point of view that we could regard as more empowering to who we think we are. That perspective becomes the happy meaning we attach to the thought, which then shapes our regard for the people or things that we are thinking about. We then regard them as good people and good situations. The immediacy of this happiness is in the fact that it mostly involves movement of the mind, without much use of the body.

On the contrary, when we look for happiness from outside of ourselves, it becomes the happiness of having, or of being with. We describe that as having a friend, a partner, a place to stay, a possession. This happiness could only be experienced when we relate to another person, a thing, place or situation outside of ourselves, which makes it necessary to exert some physical effort and move from one place to another while following certain processes that are required for realizing it.

Our everyday lives are a perpetual pursuit of happiness – both in the mind and physically. Depending on where we perceive our happiness to be, we either stay where we are and find it in the mind, or move the body to some place where thi happiness could be found. How we often choose to pursue our happiness; whether mostly from within ourselves or outside, could be regarded as the best measure of the extent of a person’s spirituality.

Each person is a unison of both mind and body. The more we find our happiness from the non-physical aspects of our humanity, the more we are able to find happiness without moving or doing much. This is a more spiritual orientation to life. On the contrary, a more physically oriented pursuit of happiness is characterized by driven behavior and physical movement because we perceive our happiness to be beyond ourselves and in otherness of people, places, things and situations.

To experience the happiness of being, one has to lower their reliance on any particular kind of happiness by enhancing their ability to find the same kind of happiness in various other forms where it is available and could be enjoyed immediately. It is akin to needing to go to Knysna but not affording the trip, and then going to the Johannesburg Zoo instead, to make up for the same need, instead of insisting on the one that could not be realized as efficiently. It is not necessarily a surrender of our need, but an openness to realize it in more than just one way, which almost guarantees that it would be available.

Our ability to derive happiness from any situation of life, is in accepting that all of life is one. Every form of available happiness in the world, is but only a splinter of this oneness, which appears different from others simply because of the places where it is found and the methods we use for making it possible.

When we are hungry for instance; instead of eating and having the happiness of resolving our hunger, we may decide to further explore it as a way of achieving some other form of happiness.  We would find various ways in which our hunger could be used for something good. Maybe we suddenly remember how we have always spoken of fasting but never got ourselves to it and then, use our hunger as a means to achieve the happiness of fasting.

Or we may have once read about autophagy, and thought of it as a possible solution to weight loss, if we have problems with our weight. We may then decide to experiment with it for as long as it is safe to, and possibly reap some benefits from it. Either way, we would have taken something that we normally regard as a problem and transmuted it into some unusual form of happiness – happiness all the same.

To transmute suffering into happiness, solving the ‘problem’ ceases to be a priority. Instead, we change our minds about it being a problem and put the problem to good use instead of solving and eliminating it. The resulting success then becomes the lesson that, not every problem is really a problem or does it always need to be resolved – if it could be perceived differently.

Our ability to explore our minds more, especially when facing a challenging situations, is the means we have of creating more possibilities for happiness. This is how over the ages, people have been able to sustain themselves and prevail over great hardships, especially slavery, in all its different forms.

When we explore our minds less, we tend to move from wherever we are, to where we hope to find a solution. We explore our beings much less; misunderstand ourselves even more as well as become more oblivious to our innate abilities to meet all our needs. Our happiness in life becomes more dependent upon others and so does our natural ability to sustain our lives.

Our habitual dependence on others, diminishes our confidence in our ability to live our own lives. Loss of confidence in our own selves, creates the different forms of enslavement that we have in the world today; of one person by another through geo-politics; national politics, medicine, economy, religion and ethnicity, among others. Racism, xenophobia and homophobia are themselves tenets of a belief by one person that their own well-being depends upon diminishing the wellbeing of another. This is a more outwardly focused awareness of what others could do to us or for us, than what it is we already have within us, that we could use for our own salvation – without the need to compete or disqualify anyone.

When those whom we trust to have our solutions can not provide them, or we have no money to access their help, we then fall into a deep state of scarcity and helplessness even when, in many ways, we already have whatever it takes to achieve the happiness we are aspiring for.

Our power over ourselves is in the direct access to ourselves – to our minds, feelings, thoughts, bodies and situations. Each one of us is the closest person to the issues of their own life and for that reason, is the highest authority on matters pertaining to themselves. When we are ill, even the doctor would still need to know from us what is wrong, where the pain is. When we look at our problems with enough honesty, we are motivated to resolve them in more sustainable ways than even the best consultant, who would also need to understand the problem as well as we do, to help us.

Human healing rests in our ability to trust that each one of us – more than anyone else – is in the best situation to understand their own problems, and that there is no one more qualified to resolve a problem than the one who understands it the most. In that way, each one of us is their own problem, as well as their own best solution – if only we could trust ourselves to be. – GEM

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