Reflections on Happiness

Reflections on Happiness

By Reza Ganjavi

She called one night and replied to my hello: "Why are you so happy? By this time of night, Swiss people are very serious. Are you drunk? Swiss people answer the phone in such happy mood only when they are drunk". "I don't need to drink, I am naturally drunk."

This feeling of happiness is special and it's not. It is in that it is really beautiful. It is not in that probably many others feel it too. It's special enough that this morning I decided to write something about it - to convey it to a few friends. It's not my business to judge others but I see people all the time and many unhappy ones. Youngsters are usually happy but somehow they can turn into grumpy old people - perhaps by the abuse of the body/brain... (In Europe it is very easy to be with and see many other people on a day to day basis. In the US, or at least in Los Angeles, you see mostly cars not people, and you see people mostly on television, and lifestyle is so geared towards work, coffee, television, alcohol, and many people lose touch with nature because life is so busy, so they forget what a tree smells like. To lose touch with nature is to lose touch with humanity.)

One of the biggest forms of pollution is noise pollution and we got plenty of that in Europe as well. But I've noticed sometimes people want constant noise in their life: let the TV run in the background - and radio too...and the noise of gossip. I have wondered if it is easier to be quiet inwardly where there is outward quietness. While not necessary, I think outer quietness helps. But utter quietness is dangerous ground to the "self" as the self may disappear - die - in the utter quietness of the mind. Constant occupation within the field of thought means living a very limited life; for as long as the brain is occupied, the otherness - that which is beyond the limitations of the mind - that which is new and fresh cannot come into being.

These days I feel naturally high. It's tremendously powerful. The weather has suddenly cooled off. It is very pleasant. A few leaves have started falling, autumn must be around the corner. The fresh, gentle, crisp, light coolness of the air, caresses the body and penetrates right through it - as though you are nothing - and it brings love, peace, gentleness, and happiness. The sky is blue and the sun has a gentle soothing warmth, and at night, too, love is in the air.

I believe that some of these exercises I do, especially stretches and breathing exercises have an effect on this feeling of being naturally high. Taking care of the body in general, allows its sensitivity to be sharpened and thus its ability to feel good in itself and sense beauty. Also, I believe that stimulants and depressants (e.g., cigarettes, alcohol, coffee, black tea, chocolate - and sugar), alter the body's tuning and therefore reduce sensitivity and make a person go through moods. The ups are fine, but it's the down side that is a drag - literally. But the "middle way" as Buddha also suggests is where you can have the highest quality and quantity of happiness. A friend wrote recently from London and said how happy he was for having quit drinking coffee. Life can be complicated enough, and these things which are apparently helping with the difficulties, actually make it more complicated by bringing stress and/or loss of energy. Energy, which is mostly lost in conflict with another or conflict in one's self between what is and what should be, is essential to happiness. Mental agitation such as the result of trying to approach the unknown with the known also causes energy wastage as discussed in a previous essay.

On the subject of breathing exercises and being high, we know that medically, a main reason that people feel 'high' from smoking pot is its opening effect on the lungs (layman's terms). But it is a drug, and any dependence brings misery. Breath is related to feeling "high".

The love one feels, is not only due to or for a subject. It is wider in its scope. Happiness may not have a cause, but if I had to give it a cause, it'd be "everything beautiful in life", including grapes, naps, smiles, trees, music, touch, freedom, singing, order, healing, children (except the noisy neighbor's! :)), and all the lovely people I know.