Who am I? Where am I going? How will I get there? Clear answers to these questions are critical to success in the pursuit of happiness. Yet these questions are difficult to answer in modern times when self definition has been left increasingly to the individual. Psychology has assumed a dominant role in guiding people to the good life, but science alone cannot bear the weight of providing all the answers. It is a curious paradox that the phenomenal growth of psychotherapy over the past 20 years has been accompanied by increased confusion about who we are, breakdown in marital structures, and growing violence. We desperately latch on to the latest version of "life's little instruction books" to find answers about how to live.
The information revolution in which you are participating at this moment has added another challenge and opportunity. We are bombarded with instant awareness and "omni-access" to every imaginable form of multi-media content from personalized Wall Street Journal financial information to the latest fad and fetish. The Mullahs of Islamic countries who cannot control the electronic airwaves are keenly aware that this telecommunication revolution has set up a competition for defining the Self in the next era. We should also be aware of this transformation.
Human beings are not static, fixed creatures. Philosophers such as Susanne Langer and Alfred Korzybski have taught us that we are constantly constructing and recreating ourselves. We use words, images and symbols to make ourselves, to form society, to create patterns of living. The mind or consciousness is a "stream of symbols", words and images that provide "pictures" of the world we live in. These pictures are forged into systems that give meaning to our lives. The cross, the star of David, the hammer and sickle, the American flag are powerful symbols that organize and transform our experience into something beyond simple, fragmented events. Consciousness creates meaning. Persons form and transform themselves.
Consider the Pueblo and the Plains Indians. In Patterns of Culture, noted anthropologist Ruth Benedict discovered that the Pueblo Indians valued moderation, dignity, kindness, orderliness, mildness, and social ceremony. They described themselves as 'the peaceful people' who stress inner tranquillity, interconnectedness with others, devotion to the group rather than individual accomplishment, and minute regulation of every sphere of life by sets of rules. The Plains Indians, in contrast, favored excess, intensity, conflict, heroism, breaking routine, violence and individuality. Opposite sets of symbols dominated the minds and the social life of these tribes.
What will the citizen of the emerging global village look like? Who will define the good life and what will it consist of? What will be valued and what will be devalued? Nobody can see far enough into the horizon to know the answers, but transformation is certain. In contemporary culture, the sounds and symbols of gangster rap compete with church choirs. In the 1920's "obedience from children" led the parental wish list, whereas today parent's want their children to be independent and creative; self- sacrifice has lost ground to self-assertion.
As new patterns of culture and information exchange emerge, will new paths to happiness appear? Or is there 'nothing new under the sun' such that classical virtues and traditional truths will be rediscovered as the Way to fulfillment.
There are no shortcuts to happiness, but there are paths. These sometimes arduous routes have been pioneered by the great thinkers and religious sages of history. We believe that the pursuit of happiness in the 215' century must be informed by the discoveries of past 40 centuries since these have defined our contemporary symbols and values. Perhaps some paths are inherently better than others and some more suited to a given individual's temperament or style. Let's begin with the traditional paths of life that have guided both western and eastern cultures throughout history.
In The Open Self, Charles Morris observed that people are not fixed in stone, but have always pondered the question of how to live, what human beings should be and how they might become what they choose. Morris organized the answers given to these questions into fundamental "paths of life". Each path has its own unique patterns of values or cardinal virtues. Some of these paths are strictly followed by vast segments of the world's population; other paths are merely threads that have been woven into the complex tapestry of modern culture.
These paths are summarized below. Which do you most identify with? Do you already follow one or more of the paths? Is there a path you haven't tried that might guide your pursuit of happiness? Try to imagine yourself walking in the path and really feel what connects with your deepest desires, ambitions, dreams, and values.
3rd Moon of Happiness
Paths of Life and Personal Meaning
"Lord, make Your ways known to me. Teach me Your paths."
|Moderation||Simple & Refined Receptivity|
Key: Optimism & Positive Thinking
"Two men look out through the same bars: One sees the mud, and one the stars."
---Frederick Langbridge, A Cluster of Quiet Thoughts
The happy ending is our national belief'', observed American author and critic Mary McCarthy. Insofar as Americans are inclined to pursue happiness, we do it with the optimistic belief that happiness is attainable and that I personally will find it--sooner or later. Optimism is emphasized in our culture from the charming children's story about The Little Train that Could * who chugs along with self-encouragement, "I think I can, I think I can," to modern motivational speakers like Anthony Robbins who in Awaken the Giant Within* preaches the "Can Do! mental attitude. This character trait of American optimism has served us well as our nation grew in scope and power. Recently, psychological research on optimism, productivity and health has confirmed what Americans have believed all along: Optimism is better than pessimism.
The debate between optimists and pessimists will continue to rage. As writer James Cabell put it, "The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true". While the debate continues though, we have learned from psychological research summarized by noted psychologist Martin Seligman in his outstanding book Learned Optimism * that optimists have better physical health, recover more from cancer, sell more life insurance and are more likely to survive the ordeals of West Point's infamous "beast barracks". Science has proven repeatedly what popular and religious writers have long known.
Simply put, optimists are more resilient, productive, and healthy than pessimists. Pessimists claim to be more realistic since they do not flinch from observing all the negative events throughout the world. And surely some optimists can go to extremes of denying obvious realities. But a reality that cannot be denied is that the pursuit of happiness is furthered by an optimistic state of mind.
The Third Cycle of The Moon!
Wokini' by Billy Mills)
VIEW YOUR LIFE WITH OPTIMISM AND HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
The Third Stick Needed to Fuel the Fire of Happiness
I am happy because I view my life with optimism and hope for the future. Little by little, everything adds up. A single drop of rain seems to make little difference in the world. Yet, as it flows downhill, it gathers with other drops and soon a trickle develops. This trickle becomes a stream, a stream becomes a river, and soon the drop is part of something so powerful it cannot be stopped. I will lead my life in the same way. Optimism is a drop of rain, a belief that something good will happen to me today. At first the optimism may not seem important. I may forget about it, yet I know it stays with me. Then I will be optimistic about a second thing, and then a third. Like the drops that turned to a trickle, my optimism will grow stronger. Soon it will flow in my life and will not be stopped. Why will I do this? Why do I want to be optimistic? Because optimism is something that makes me happy. And I want to be happy.
I will view my life with optimism and hope for the best.
I have hope about my life because I know the future is unlimited for me. While the past is gone, only I can decide what my future will bring. Should I see my future as dark and dismal? Should I doubt if anything good will ever happen to me? Should I live in fear of tomorrow? No, I won't, because if I do see my future this way, then I have sealed my fate. I will have become nothing because I believe I am nothing.
Like light and dark, like good and bad, there is another view. If I see my future as light and hopeful, if I doubt anything bad will ever happen to me, and if I look forward to tomorrow with excitement, then I have also sealed my fate. I am happy because I am optimistic. I have hope for a better tomorrow. I am not worried about the failures of today because I know that tomorrow, things will be better. I will also view my life as an adventure. What happens next may be beyond my control, yet the excitement is worth the risk. I will see my life in the same way a child sees the world,with innocence and peace of heart. I will know that each day, something new and exciting will happen to me. I will know that each day, I will learn something that is important to me. Each day, I will expect that something good will happen to me. I have no fear of tomorrow because it will be better than today.
I will view my life with optimism and hope for the best.
When I look to the future with optimism, I know great things will happen to me. Life can only improve for me, and it makes me feel great enthusiasm for everything I do. There is no fear that the future will not come true, because optimism is like a star that guides me at night. As I flow through troubled waters, I simply look to the star and I know I will arrive if I stay on course. As long as I use the star of optimism to be happy, I will always reach my goal. As I know, happiness is both the beginning and end of any goal in life. Optimism will make me happy.
If things are bad, they will get better. If they are good, I will appreciate them more. There is always room for more optimism in my life. What will I be optimistic about? Everything. I will be optimistic about myself and have high hopes for my future. I will believe that good things will happen to me. I will be optimistic about people. I will believe they are thinking good thoughts and doing good deeds because it makes me feel better about them. I will be optimistic about my family and believe in them. My faith in them will help them overcome all odds. I will be optimistic with my enemies because I believe it will make the world a better place. I will be optimistic with the words I speak because I understand the power of words to influence others. I will be optimistic in the way I lead my life because actions and words go hand in hand. Optimism will become a way of life for me and I will be happy as a result.
I will view my life with optimism and hope for the best.
If things are bad, they will get better. If they are good, I will appreciate them more. There is always room for more optimism in my life. What will I be optimistic about? Everything. I will be optimistic about
Thank you, Apis-To-Too-Ki, for showing me this!!!