Thinking about happiness today, and just what it is really. Many many people think that life is about finding happiness, about being happy. Think about happiness as something to be found, as if it hides under a rock or, more often, resides in a specific other person or persons. Think about happiness as the effect of a cause, but a cause outside oneself.
I came on this quote by Albert Camus. He takes the happiness dialogue up a step or two, raises it to the level of principles. I suppose that is the truth. Happiness is not just about a feeling, it is about the conditions that not only cause the feeling, or that we think cause the feeling, it is about the conditions that we allow the feeling we call happiness to be caused by in the first place.
We can only be happy when we allow ourselves to be happy. Some people can be happy only with money, or only with a devoted lover; others only in the bosom of their families, on and on. But there are other people who can be happy without those things. People who can be happy in the face of terrific loss; happy in the event of drastically changed circumstances. Even happy in declining health. If happiness were a fixed phenomenon it wouldn’t be such a shape-changer.
Here’s Camus’ quote: “Those who prefer their principles over their happiness,” Albert Camus wrote in contemplating our self-imposed prisons, “they refuse to be happy outside the conditions they seem to have attached to their happiness.”
M L S Baisch
Art by Catherine Rayner. Love love her art. And the metaphors her art bring to my mind.