Happiness is not Hidden from You. You are Hidden from It

Many, many years ago in North Africa there lived a chief. He was very rich and had many wives and children. But he was not happy. He thought, “I have everything. But that does not make me happy. What must I do to be happy? I don’t know.”

Once he shouted angrily to his servants, “Why can’t I be happy? What must I do to be happy?”

One of his servants said, “Oh, my Chief! Look at the sky! How beautiful the moon and the stars are! Look at them and you will see how good life is. That will make you happier.”

“Oh, no, no, no!” the chief answered angrily. “When I look at the moon and the stars I become angry. Because I know I cannot get them.”

Then another servant said, “Oh, my Chief! What about music?

Music makes a man happy. We shall play to you from morning till night and music will make you happy. ”

The chief’s face became red with anger. “Oh, no, no, no, no!” he cried. “What a silly idea. Music is fine. But to listen to music from morning till night, day after day? Never! No. Never!”

So the servants went away. And the chief sat angrily in his rich room. Then one of the servants came back into the room and made a bow, “Oh, my Chief,” he said, “but I think I can tell you something that will make you very happy.”

“What is it?” asked the chief.

“It is very easy to do,” said ‘the servant. “You must find a happy man, take off his shirt and put it on. Then his happiness will go into your body and you will be as happy as he!”

“I like your idea,” said the chief. He sent his soldiers all over the country to look for a happy man. They went on and on. But it was not easy to find a happy man in the chief’s country. But one day the soldiers found a man in a small village who said, “I am the happiest man in the world.”

He was poor. But he always smiled and sang. The soldiers brought him to the chief. “At last I shall be a happy man!” said the chief and took off his shirt at once. “Bring the man in!” The door of the chief’s room opened. A small, dark man with a happy smile walked in.

“Come here, my friend!” said the chief. “Please take off your shirt!” The happy man with a little smile came up to the chief.

The chief looked at him and saw what did he see?

The happy man, the happiest man in the world, had no shirt!

 If you rely on unreliable objects – people, possessions, money, status- for your happiness, happiness will forever elude you. None of these can offer you a guarantee of happiness because they are outside your control.

“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are it solely relies on what you think.” Happiness is not hidden from you. You are hidden from it. Reveal yourself to it by appreciating what you have at this moment.

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SNAP OUT OF IT! Your life is not Supposed to be like the Stories you Read

We are story junkies. Who can blame us. Just for starters, great stories inspire and motivate. Teach and persuade. Entertain and distract. The greater the story, the greater the emotion expressed.

Our proclivity for great stories though comes with a warning from Kurt Vonnegut. A story-teller whose creative vehicle was writing. His career spanned over 50-years, and at one of his talks, he said, “People have been hearing fantastic stories since time began. The problem is, they think life is supposed to be like the stories.

He uses the story of a little girl who lost her mother to illustrate his point.

The death of her mother and the introduction of a stepmother and two stepsisters who treat her unkindly cause her to experience the lowest of lows. A ball is announced. She is not invited. Still feeling low.

giphyA fairy godmother steps in for the rescue. She gets a dress and a coach and off to the ball she goes where she dances with a prince. What a high.

Midnight strikes. She has to leave the ball. Back to her miserable life. The high dissipates. But all is not lost. She has a glorious memory. (It will be used to measures the worthiness of other events. Just watch)

Short story even shorter. Shoe. Prince. Happily ever after. Highs through the roof. This is the life.

You know this story. It’s the greatest rags to riches story out there. It and many others that have been based (loosely or otherwise) around it are almost always guaranteed to be box office gold. We just can’t stop sucking this stuff up.

The Source of the Drama

Vonnegut concludes that  “because we grew up surrounded by big dramatic story arcs in books and movies, we think our lives are supposed to be filled with huge ups and downs! So people pretend there is drama where there is none.”

If your life is not composed of high highs and low lows, relax. You are not getting the short end of the stick. For the majority of us, life is not overly fantastic or overly drastic. We are doing just fine if not better than what social media would have you believe.

Your life is not a fairytale. Your life is not supposed to be like the stories you read.  If it was you would be a pill popping, barely functioning member of society. Trying hard but constantly failing to cope with the constant emotional swings.

You would also be a card carrying member of the drama creating society and our job in return would be to avoid you like the bubonic plague. You don’t want this. You should never want this. You’re a social creature. You need us.

If you read something great, be informed by it. Never allow yourself to be consumed by it.

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