Monday, February 15, 2010

Finding and Sharing Happiness

"The source of happiness is inside of you." -Randall Krause

One of my favorite things to say is, "We don't find happiness in relationships; rather, we share happiness in relationships," which is to say that we must have discovered the fountain of our own happiness before we bathe in the fountain of someone else.

Down through the ages so much has been written about finding happiness, and the consensus seems to be that enduring happiness cannot be found in the arms of another person. Why then, does the myth of finding happiness in a relationship persist? Maybe it's that we've all found moments of bliss in the arms of another; or, maybe there has been some confusion. Look at what one thinker has to say about the subject:

"There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved." -George Sand

On the surface, this seems to suggest that happiness CAN be found in a relationship. We find the contrary on closer inspection. The first thing we must do for happiness is GIVE love to others. Most of the great spiritual traditions inform us that true love gives without any thought of return, and these same traditions also suggest that love will always return to the giver, in some form.

Viktor Frankl taught us that happiness and meaning in life cannot be pursued; it must ensue as the by-product of creating, experiencing, and choosing. In other words, as a by-product of LIVING an active life. What kind of activity? Denis Waitley said, "Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude." Neither men suggest we find happiness by seeking love, but rather living in a state wherein love is the fiber of our very being. Waitley seems to suggest all that we do and say must originate in love, which agrees with the Buddha: "One who values happiness for himself but creates anxiety for others is confused." We create happiness for others by loving them in a state of constant grace, seasoned with gratitude.

Personally, I've come to the conclusion that I must be well-established in my own happiness long before I am able to sustain an enduring relationship. This makes sense, right? Only when I'm happy can I share it with another person. I must possess something before it can be shared with another.

The other person in my life must be well-established in her own happiness too. I cannot be the source of happiness for her, nor can she for me. Anything else would be a co-dependency.

Now, this isn't to say that I can be satisfied in a relationship with just anyone. Some people are more compatible than others and I intend to spend the remainder of my days with someone who is compatible. This will make the sharing of our synergistic happiness easier.

So the take-home lesson is to find your own place of happiness independent of another person. If you're single, seek someone who is already quite happy, and compatible with you. If you're in a relationship, the best thing you can do is to gently nudge them down their own path of happiness and give love in great abundance.