Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.
~ Max Planck
Are you happy?
Radio astronomers construct giant receivers to map out matter we cannot directly see or hear. Ninety-six percent of everything in the Universe is dark matter, or outside of our perceivable spectrum. The entire Universe we see, hear and feel is only four percent of everything out there.
In such a large and mysterious Universe, how is it possible life feels mundane?
If you use a smart phone, you hold power in your hand that was unimaginable twenty years ago. In fact – when my grandfather was born indoor plumbing was just gaining popularity. When we step back and look at the progression of the last century including the building of roads, cars, televisions, air transportation, telephones, computers and now wireless tablets… our world has delivered to us technology that has transformed our lives.
How is it possible then, that we feel dissatisfied and want more?
It turns out that happiness is not a result of how much you have or even how well you are loved.
Happiness is found when the gap between reality and expectations is small. If what you have is very close to what you expect for yourself, you feel happy.
I’ve had several friends come back from orphanages in Africa astonished at the joy – the joie de vivre – they witnessed there. “They had nothing,” they say “but they sang and danced and were so loving…. I thought I was there to give them a gift. I was the one in need.”
I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
~ Anne Lamott
I’m not a person with low expectations. I start each day with a list of tasks and do my best to accomplish all of them. Somewhere early on I learned that working hard towards a goal was the secret to a good life.
This may be partially true, but it needs to be balanced with other truths. For example, fame, beauty and wealth are not sources of happiness. According to a study in Science Daily, they are psychological dead ends. The study showed that the more committed a person is to a goal the more likely they are to achieve it, but getting what one wants does not automatically bring about greater life satisfaction. Extrinsic goals like money and adoration, or being perceived as successful by others, do not increase happiness once attained. On the other hand, intrinsic goals like developing strong relationships and pursuing one’s passions do result in greater contentment.
A day spent without the sight or sound of beauty, the contemplation of mystery, or the search of truth or perfection is a poverty-stricken day; and a succession of such days is fatal to human life.
~ Lewis Mumford
Happiness is more internal and less external than many people think.
We have the right to the pursuit of happiness. I, for one, would like to stop pursuing it and instead realize it more day to day. It seems that feeling fulfilled is a skill; a combination of making peace with what is (i.e. low expectations) and pursuing personally satisfying goals that may or may not ever result in wealth, beauty or fame.
Perhaps it is easy to feel mundane in a spectacular Universe because we are only one small perspective inside of it. Perhaps it is in accepting our smallness that the true grandness of our lives reveals itself; the adventures, the growth, the friendships. After all, our life is a series of moments. Can we enjoy each one?
My new list of tasks: Enjoy Each One.
Are you expectations creating loss? How have you created a change for yourself?
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photo credits: Xenu space plane by ChrisO, recomposited by Foobaz,
Tesla Roadster by cytech’s,
Nascer do Sol em Porto de Galinhas by Américo Nunes,
Four friends raise their tea cups by United Kingdom Government,
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