Letter to the Editor

Everyone wants to be happy

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Can we agree on one thing? Everyone wants to be happy. Would you say that you are "happy beyond measure,” "about as happy as I've always been,” "relatively happy,” "as happy as I deserve to be,” "working on it?” Would you like to be happy every day of your life?

Countless individuals in history have provided insights on the topic of happiness. Jesus said it best when He told the rich young man that he needed to divest himself of his wealth, and keep the commandments to love God above all else, and love your neighbor as yourself. Then there was the famous congregational minister, Henry Ward Beecher, who penned these words over 150 years ago: "The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.” So, that would mean, roughly, that you can be happy in just about any circumstance.

The well-known Chinese philosopher Confucius, in the 6th century B.C. wrote: "If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character; if there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home; if there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation; if there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world." That sounds more intelligent and uplifting than some of the stuff attributed to Confucius, as in "time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like bananas.” Or how about "man who run behind car get exhausted?”

So the point in all this comes down to the fact that happiness certainly can be elusive for those seeking it in the wrong places. As a wise psych nurse in the 1990s said in her classes on the mental health unit at Spencer Hospital: "Happiness is an inside job!" It isn't about power and control, wealth or influence. It isn't about comparing my situation with yours. It comes down to doing what is right, day in and day out; treating others with respect even if you disagree with them; displaying the golden rule in your dealings with others. Going outside yourself, doing something unexpected for the good of others — there's where it's at! Tonight, follow the advice given in the Irving Berlin song from the 1954 movie "White Christmas:” “when you're worried and you can't sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep" ... you know the rest.

— Bill Kersting, Spencer