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The path to happiness

The beginning of the path to happiness is acknowledging that life is a gift. We didn't ask for it (like most gifts) but we are here, we are alive. Good or bad, right or wrong, we exist. We live. And, every moment of our lives, we make a choice: do I continue in this way, or do I change? How do I respond? What do I do now?

The focus is now. We can't change the past and we cannot control the future. All we can do is to choose what we do now, how we respond. We may be hungry, but we can choose to fast, or to eat, or to go for a run, and so on. No one can MAKE us do anything. Even under torture, there is a choice we make, to suffer or confess, to live or to die.

It seems that the secret to happiness is simply to be grateful for this gift. Just because life is a gift doesn't mean that we are automatically grateful for it. Indeed, we are often not. And we are at our most miserable when we realize that the gift is not all roses. There are thorns. And we are overwhelmed by the challenges we face. We have all heard stories of those who triumphed over adversity, of people who survived the worst that life can throw at them (concentration camps, abusive parents, disease, etc), and we admire their heroism. But when it falls upon us to be heroes, we often balk and question why these things happen to us.

And that is the challenge that Jesus came to give us - love God and love one another. Be grateful for the life you have. God created you in love, to love you and to make a hero out of you. Jesus didn't say that our lives will be free of suffering. Quite the opposite, he calls upon us to embrace suffering cheerfully, to be glad that we are being challenged, and that God is leading us closer towards Him. Embracing this challenging life is the lightest yoke we can carry. It often seems like the heaviest.

2 blog comments below

I like your point of view about happiness, but I am not really sure about free will.
You affirm that there is free will, but it can be discussed if you take in mind the classic physics,
which state that, if we could know all the information about all the particles in the universe and
the laws behind their interactions, we would be able to know both the past and the future of the universe,
including the outcome of every decision.

I like science very much, but an argument against was done by modern science, particularly ( Very Happy ),
by the quantum physics and particle physics, which state that any of the interactions outcome is defined,
instead there is a probability for them.

In the future maybe we will come back to the first theory when we know more, or maybe not.
restonpiston on Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:03 pm
Good point, restonpiston. I guess, for me, I don't take science as the final arbiter of truth. Rather, I see science as a rational and objective search for truth. It could be wrong but at least it's open to being corrected. With that in mind, it seems to me that the notion of free will, in the manner expressed here, is true empirically. We do have a choice, every moment of our lives, to choose our response.

More importantly, we need to live acknowledging that freedom to choose. Why else bother with teaching our children how to behave? Loving someone fundamentally requires that you choose the happiness of the one you love over other options. Putting criminals in jail is not only meaningless but cruel. Discussion itself is pointless.

There was a popular movement in the sixties, led by B F Skinner, around determinism, that suggested that you can predict the response of any person to any situation if you know everything about his past behavior. That's an unscientific claim since it carries within it a self-correcting caveat: if the behavior is not correctly predicted, that's because you can't know everything. So, the theory cannot be disproven.

It is based on the fact that we are, on the one hand, rational human beings, and on the other, influenced by circumstances and our past. So, for the most part, yes, our responses are predictable. But, we can choose to respond differently. Can this be proven? I think so. I write because I chose to. I am aware I made that choice and I accept the consequences of doing so. I also think about the value of my choice. And am now pondering if I can afford to continue doing this.

It seems to me that free will is the very essence of life, and of living a meaningful life. Of course, I cannot prove this absolutely, beyond all doubt. But I am of the view that science itself is not beyond all doubt. That it is just the best working proposition we have at the moment. I don't believe everything that scientists claim.
Haiku2016 on Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:38 am

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