The other night I was watching Patch Adams, a great movie. If you have not seen it, you should. Nothing I have to say about it will ruin the film if you have yet to enjoy it. In it, Robin Williams plays a med student who doesn’t play by the rules. The school dean wants him out and one of the complaints about him is he is excessively happy. What does that mean! Is that not a good thing?
Everyone wants happiness; nobody wants to suffer. I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. (Dalai Lama) To practice happiness, I think is to live life properly the way it is meant to be lived. It’s more than just being optimistic and smiling. It’s about staying close to family and friends, making new friends, having deep conversations, and being happy wherever you are. I struggled with this, yet I am starting to learn that happiness is not about getting what you want, but enjoying what you already have.
The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open. (Chuck Palahniuk) Happiness is risky. You risk being hurt. You risk sadness and alienation. You risk feeling too much. If you want to be happy, you must practice happiness. If you want to dare to someone complain about you being excessively happy than you are going to have risk, risk everyday to be open to hurt, abuse, and scorn, but also open to love, joy, and friendship. It is a risk and an adventure, just as life is one big adventure.
How do you do it?
Listen to Ray Bradbury: “Stand at the top of a cliff and jump off and build your wings on the way down.”
No one can tell you how to do it. You just do it. You risk. You step out. You dare. There is no how. Happiness is found in the moment. All you do is step out, practice the way of happiness and face whatever comes. Sometimes pain, sometime joy will come. If you face life in a programmed, abstract way you win, you lose. I am sure you’ll lose more often. Yet, if you live life in a personal, relational, compassionate way, you will win every time. You will. Believe me.
So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? (Hunter S. Thompson)