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Introspective, Non-Fiction, Outrospective, Travel

The Elephant in the Room

And so, the question is: Are you happy?

What was your immediate reaction to this?  For just like me telling you to not think about a pink elephant, or to, you inevitably will.  And so I’m wondering, for your own sake, what was your knee-jerk reaction.

There are numerous ways within which to consider this question.  But, like most things, the best answer is the simplest.  So, let me pose it to you in a different way, do you smile more than you frown?

Forgo mathematical equations, i.e. counting how many times you smile or frown in a day and consider that knee-jerk expression that arouse on the face of your consciousness, or perhaps viscerally on your face.

If the answer was yes, consider why.  Why are you happy?  Is it because of how much money you have?  Is it because of your friends, your job, your wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, dog, hobbies, sports team, food?

If the answer was no, consider why.  Why aren’t you happy? Is it because of how much money you have?  Is it because of your friends, your job, your wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, dog, hobbies, sports team, food?

They’re parallel, no?  Well, they are whether you think so or not.  How so?

They reflect something inside of us, our priorities and the basic nature of humanity.  We are happy or sad due to the cumulative affect of the world which we allow to be around us–make no mistake, I made none, allow is the correct word.  It is everything, and thus nothing, which causes us to be happy.  It is the organization of priorities within our own heads that determines our happiness.

You might say that we cannot influence others around us or their actions towards us and such and you would be correct.  We can only truly influence ourselves, 100%. Throw out extreme examples such as murder, war, etc., let’s remove these instances from our train of thought for a moment.  Let’s consider the world around us and the things that affect us in three categories: Good, Neutral, and Bad.

Even these are largely dependent on one’s own perspective.  Something Bad to you may be Good, or Neutral to me, and vice a versa, and so the point still holds that the world around us is largely what we allow it to be.  Our brain naturally works to balance things, hence why some people go crazy from traumatic events; it’s their brain attempting to cope.  However, some people compensate, and come out of an experience little changed, or changed, but not broken, and that is because all things depend on how you internalize the world around you, and then what you choose to externalize.

In the end, you determine the world around you, and what is Good, Neutral, or Bad.  It is your actions which determine the life that you live, not someone else; in my opinion, not another being, of any sort, but that is debatable, as I have no proof as you have no proof, and that is where we reach the common ground of Faith.  But that is a discussion for another day.

Basically, what I’m driving at is this: Take the experiences, the constituents of your life, and internalize them all and see them for what they are, as factual happenings and then determine those which are Bad and then realize that they affect you only so far as you allow them, mentally.  I’m not speaking of physical pain, I’m talking about your being, who you are as a person and how you treat others and yourself.  Look to life to learn.

To steal a quote, Howard Thurman said, ”Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Just do more of what makes you happy.  It is better for everyone around you if you’re honest about that which does and doesn’t.  Adapt those desires to the things you feel you must do, but even that is subjective.

So, I’ll ask you once more: Are you happy? Has the answer changed?  Probably not.  You’ll probably not really wrap your head around this anytime soon, or maybe you don’t care to.  But, just maybe, one day, something will click and you’ll suddenly realize, “I don’t have to do this.  I can do whatever I want to do, be whoever I want to be, go wherever I want to go.”  Money is a limiting factor, if you allow it to be.  You always have more options, even down to the most basic of life or death, you always have a choice, until you don’t, and if you ever reach a point where you literally have no choice….I don’t know, those are rare…

In a thread of conversation in some comments on another blog, Science and Songbirds, the author said this while we were in dialogue and I found it very, very poignant:

Traveling has a way of teaching us in the best of ways how little money it takes to be very happy and once the idea of wealth is a little less important, there seems to be a lot more clarity about what really matters.

I posit that this is true of any form of poverty, self-enforced or otherwise.  And you cannot truly understand the implications of this statement until you’ve experienced it, and when, or if you have, you’ll simply nod your head emphatically.

So, now, a better question: What makes you happy?

My father once said, “Find what makes you happy, and then find a way of doing it for the rest of your life.”  And what this tells me, as I believe the following is true, is that the things which in some sense you can “have” (a partner, money, house, family, etc.) are important to your happiness in the sense that they provide context to what you dedicate yourself to.

Then the better question to ask people  upon meeting them is, “To what do you dedicate yourself?”  And if that answer is a family, then so be it, it can be anything, and it can be a thousand things, but make sure that you’re pursuing it, because there is nothing worse in this world than wasted desire.  It will pile in the troughs of your brain like nuclear waste, killing you from the inside out as your emotions feed from this contaminated source, plaguing you with resentment, jealousy, disgust, hatred, pain, to be witty, the Dark Side of the Force(Youtube).

This is why I write, to find what makes me happy, and because it makes me happy and wonder why other people do things and whether it makes them happy or not.

And the answer is: Yes, I am.



About Jared Krauss

traveler, reader, thinker, writer, photographer, doer


3 thoughts on “The Elephant in the Room

  1. Happiness is one of those concepts that I always find very thrilling to discuss. I’ve even written a novel about it, not about how to obtain it or what it means, but whether we deserve it. I’ve found that posing yourself that question (even if we have the inherent right to be happy and pursue happiness) gives you a lot of ground for what I’d call self-evaluation. What have you done to deserve happiness?

    Posted by Joe Pineda | April 18, 2012, 09:59
  2. I dislike that idea, to be quite honest, so far as the average Joe goes. ;)

    The reason being, I’m fearful that too many people would conclude that they don’t deserve happiness. And we all do, to an extent. At least all of us not bent on the pain and suffering of others.

    Posted by J.E. Krauss | April 18, 2012, 10:17
  3. Jared, I love your writing. Get back in that frame of mind.

    Posted by RebaRockefeller | June 3, 2012, 22:25

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