I was talking to a friend of mine, and we were exploring the idea of what happiness is. And what I found out was that he was linking his happiness to his job. I suspect it was more than just work, that there were other things in his life that he was unsatisfied with, but he didn't reveal it as such.
"What's the point of doing what you love if happiness is not eternal?" he asked. Because he doesn't believe in an afterlife, what's the point of being good and happy if there's no judgement?
That wasn't an interesting question because what he really wanted to know was how does he know he's happy. Then he was confusing happiness and contentment. So this is what I told him:
My opinion in which everyone is obligated to is that real happiness is the same thing as being content. That happiness is like having a healthy body (not talking about the media's idea of fitness). So when you cut yourself your body will naturally heal because that's what our bodies are built to do.
Now you can interrupt that healing process by hurting yourself again. You can make your body unhealthy by drug abuse. You can cover yourself in disease and your body may become diseased. What all those things have in common is an EFFORT on your part to put your body on the road to unhealthiness. But once you stop doing these kinds of things, the body will make a U-turn and head toward health. All on its own.
Like the body, the mind will heal itself. You suffer a loss in life, you'll go through a mourning process, but the mind will naturally bring itself back to a state of health/contentment/happiness. Call it what you will, it's the same thing.
And like the body, you can hold onto things like over thinking, hatred, fear, and cover contentment so you cannot feel it. It's harder to see this concept with the mind because over thinking, hatred, fear isn't as obvious like drug abuse. And sometimes those things feel normal. And sometimes it is. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it's sunny.
When we play a sport our bodies might get injured. That's normal. Afterward the body immediately heals itself: the crusting of blood, the swelling and bruising, the pain to prevent further injury.
So too with the mind. We may hate for a moment. But we will naturally let it go.
Kids are great examples. They may get frustrated and hate their closest friend when something goes wrong. But faced with the choice to continue to be mad or to have a good time, they'll choose the latter. That next moment they're back playing and laughing and joking around as if nothing happened.
Adults have acquired the great skill of holding onto thoughts. Especially those that come from hate, fear, limitation, sadness.
Allowing ourselves to let go brings us back to our childlike selves of moving on. And playing in life.
And yes. The true meaning of life is to play, be happy, to be (whatever that may be). And like all things in the universe nothing is forever, save our souls. (Which is what save our souls may have meant. Not save our souls from the Hellish fires of the Satanic kingdom of the unending dark underworld of pain and suffering and the evils against the great All Mighty).
And then my friend realized something interesting. "I realized something interesting. You have decoupled happiness from things like passion, work, and stuff."
And stuff. Yes. He's an eloquent man.
"Definitely. For years I was writing and not feeling content. And that's because that's not what writing is for."
We build bridges to get somewhere faster, easier. Not to say, Hey check out that bridge. Am I cool or what?
I write to tell a good story. Not to say, Hey I'm a writer. I'm awesome. Ok. I do say that sometimes.
The point is, we can be in the middle of a shithouse and be perfectly fine. And that is one of the hardest lessons to internalize. But once you do, then you'll be prepared to deal with life's realities.