Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

I was reading an article in the newspaper the other day about someone who recently wrote a book about happiness (sorry, don't remember the author or title). His premise was that people really don't want happiness, they want contentment. He argues that we strive for material success, for things and they don't make us happy. It got me thinking about happiness and how I define it.

I feel that happiness does come from within. Maybe it's just semantics and we are really saying the same thing. I know that the "high" that can come from short term events such as winning an award, getting accepted into an exhibition, receiving a commission, or selling my work is only temporary. That feeling is not sustained over a long period. The happiness I feel comes from living a life that is true to my values. It comes from the satisfaction I have in my work, whether I am creating a piece of art or teaching others. It comes from the enjoyment I get when I sit on my patio surrounded by native plants, birds, lizards and other creatures. It comes from the joy of shared laughter with my husband over a humorous experience. It comes from the wonderful array of people who are in my life, people who share my values and interests.

And I believe that I can still be happy even if I face setbacks. My happiness is not determined by a single or series of events. I still have an underlying sense of happiness with my life even when some things aren't going well. I believe that while we may not be able to control the events that come into our lives, we can control how we react to those events. And our reaction, to a great extent, impacts our sense of happiness.

So, how do you define happiness? Are you happy? What contributes to or blocks your happiness?

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