Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Dalai Lama: What Is Happiness?

Today I read a story on a guy who met the Dalai Lama in the 90s and took him skiing in the Rockies. The entertaining story boils down to the last paragraph in which the Dalai Lama is asked what the meaning of life is, to which His Holiness answers "Life is happiness!". One has to find what makes them happy, and do it! And while I read these sentences I immediately knew the meaning of my life was if the objective was to find happiness. I am ridiculously close to it, however, it only made me think how achieving happiness is hard even if we know what will make us happy. As a result, we have to ask ourselves if happiness should really be what we are all aiming for.

My dream and biggest happiness is to be successful in the talent God has given me. Professionally, that makes me hope that I will become a better writer. When I'm successful as a writer, I am happy. Aside from the professional, I was also given quite the compassionate heart if I may say so myself, and I am lucky in a religious sense but unlucky in a socioeconomic way to actually enjoy improving other people's life. When I help, I am happy. Neither being successful at writing or helping is really an easy way to happiness because the ability to achieve it is sometimes not given. Recently, I was invited to interview for a job that would allow me to both write and help people's life, ultimately having the potential to make me one happy cookie. If that job doesn't work out, of course, the opposite of happiness will seize me for a while. If I don't achieve writing and helping in my life then, does that mean my life doesn't have meaning because I failed to be happy?

As a person who has had her fair share of obstacles in life, I should have to agree with that. The times in my life I was happiest was when I was successful and felt like I was doing what I was supposed to. The only times in my life I felt I was unhappy was when what made me happy wasn't progressing, working or, at the most somber level, paying the bills. The realization that I know what the meaning of my life is and should be, and a perpetual inability to make it the center of my life, caused me unhappiness. I was born to write, tell stories, meet people, communicate and help people in the process. That is the meaning of my life and I know that with the utmost certainty. But knowing what the purpose is doesn't mean life lets you do it.

In college, learning was the source of my happiness. Although it seems to many like I partied and studied in equal amounts, I never got a rush of happiness from attending a party that was not alcohol-infused. Staring at my computer screen in the library, getting lost in stories and knowledge, however, did that just fine. I always felt like the knowledge I was acquiring would help me become what I needed to be. Consequently, it made me happy following on a path that was supposed to transform the meaning of my life into reality. When I couldn't find a job, felt the stalemate in Egypt in my career and was rejected for opportunities that would change my life I felt unhappiness for the first time. Clearly, my meaning in life is not to find happiness. My happiness is fulfilling the meaning of my life. 

I am convinced that my pet, a child I may have one day and love can also make me very happy. I do, however, think, I was not put on this planet to do that. I clearly have more talent for writing, communicating with people and helping them than I have for raising a child or taking care of a family. The meaning of my life is not procreation. If nothing else happens in this life, however, I am sure I will still manage to be a happy little grandma one day. The quest for happiness is everyone's biggest challenge, I agree, but to call it the meaning of life is completely underestimating life. A life can be meaningful without happiness. A life can be happy but meaningless. I intend to be both happy and meaningful. Let's see how that will go...

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