Victor Frankl, the founder of logo-therapy, made an interesting point in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”. He said something to the effect that happiness can, at least partially, be defined by the negative situations (emotional, physical, etc.) that we DON’T experience.
That flies obviously into the face of all that has been taught us by the personal development gurus of the nineties. According to them we’re supposed to establish our goals, focus on them, work towards them, reach them and be happy.
I understand that this is an over-simplification. But yes, we are supposed to be pro-active and thus reach a stage of contentment.
That implies that we use our minds for defining our goals, visualize them and work towards them, taking away our focus from all the un-happiness that abounds. It’s the mind we have to put to work first, followed by action.
But the mind (at least MY mind) has a funny way of forgetting all the negative stuff that happened to me. That appears to be some kind of defense mechanism; otherwise we simply would be over-loaded with memories of unpleasant things.
That has, however, its drawbacks. I may find myself with a minor problem and resolve to solve it. A physical problem, let’s say, a fatigue that befell me a couple of weeks back. I decided to change my nutritional intake and do some exercises. Problem solved.
I forget the whole thing and thus deprive myself of the simple happiness of knowing that I am a healthy person. I could, after all, be suffering from a congenital illness, have some disability, you name it. But I don’t, and just take it for granted.
Gratitude appears to be the emotion that most successful people name as their driving force for continuing on their path. And there is so much to be grateful for. The fact that you’re reading this article shows, to begin with, that you are literate.
Most people on this planet are not.
It shows that you have spare time to browse the Internet, read and learn while you’re sipping a coffee.
Most people on this planet do not know the concept of ‘spare’ time.
It shows that you have access to electricity, not only for your computer.
There are millions and millions on this planet who, if they know how to read, have to do it by candle light after the sun has set.
We take so much for granted, and I for one like to pause once in a while to reflect on the simple grace of having all that I have.