Journeying Toward Wholeness

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The New Year & the Promise of Finding Happiness in Life

December 29th, 2014 · finding happiness in life

At New Year’s Eve we tend to confront the elusive goal of finding happiness in life.  What is true happiness, and where can it be found?

finding happiness in life

To ask an even more fundamental question: is truly finding happiness in life even possible?  Well…

…It Depends What You Mean by Happiness…

If happiness means feeling the way you do at Disneyland every day, then, no, you’ll never find true happiness.  It’s basically not possible to live life with every day being a picnic, full of stimulating fun experiences, without any real hardship.  No matter how many times you read and re-read The Secret, reality is going to impinge. You will have hardship, and there is genuine sorrow, and very often, even tragedy, in life.  Even in fortunate, upper middle class communities like Oakville or Burlington.

Well, is there any other way of finding real, lasting happiness?

Does Finding Meaning Bring Happiness?

There may well be strong benefits to the individual in finding meaning or key values, but that these might not quite fit the conventional description of happiness. Certainly, for many, finding something that imparts genuine meaning in their lives  is very good, very positive, very valuable.

Does that fit the conventional meaning of happiness?  Maybe not, but there are significant numbers of people for whom the value they experience from furthering the key source(s) of meaning in their lives is greater than even being conventionally “happy” would make them.

How to find meaning?  That takes exploration, and real work on oneself — but it may very well be worth it.

Self Acceptance

Real, genuine self acceptance takes a great amount of cultivation of self-understanding and compassion for oneself.  This is truly the fruit of depth psychotherapy, as only a psychology that is truly open to the unconscious dimensions of the person, and bringing them into contact with consciousness and the ego, can really bring the possibility of truly in-depth self-acceptance.

Does this kind of self-acceptance bring happiness?  Perhaps, but it is a happiness that brings together all of a person’s joy, pain, despair contentment — everything.  So it’s definitely not a happiness of the “Don’t Worry, be Happy” variety

Does Creating Bring Happiness?

Can creating make a person happy?  Clearly human beings are pre-disposed to be creative.  Creation seems to be fundamental to our nature as a species.  Creative acts, such as creation through the visual arts, music, dance, drama or writing can be accompanied by real joy.  They can also be accompanied by feelings of intense pain, as many artists, writers and musicians attest.  Yet acts of creation can be deeply infused with meaning and involvement of the whole person (see above).  Not exactly conventional happiness — but perhaps something more.

finding happiness in life

Could Being Happy Mean Loving One’s Fate?

CG Jung spoke on several occasions about amor fati, or “the love of one’s fate”, an expression he took from the philosopher Nietzsche.  In his book  The Joyful Wisdom , Nietzsche wrote the following about a very special resolution he made at New Year’s 1881:

Today everybody permits himself the expression of his wish and his dearest thought; hence I, too, shall say what it is that I wish from myself today, and what was the first thought to run across my heart this year – what thought shall be for me the reason, warranty, and sweetness of my life henceforth.

I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful.  Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth!  …And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.”

E.M. Forster echoes this in  A Room with a View when he has a key character say :

By the side of the everlasting Why,

there is a Yes and a yes.

Yes. “To be only a yes-sayer”, to affirm my life, in its substance and its wholeness.  To look at the whole incredible pageant / circus / tin of worms that is my life, with eyes wide open, and to say: YES.

finding happiness in life

Beyond the glib superficialities, every New Year brings us close to the powerful archetype of Renewal.  Each New Year, like the animating spirit of Jungian or depth psychotherapy , invites us to live in that profound yes.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

PHOTO:  Attribution Share Alike  © Herry Lawford ;  Mohsen Masoumi ; Koshy Koshy   
© 2014 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

 

 

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