Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vigorous

Last week in my Creative Writing class we talked about hard work, how it makes you not only strong, but how it has actually been proven to make you happy. I liked this thought. I instantly whipped out Mr. Apple and starting clacking away on his black keyboard.

Aristotle said that the one the that everyone seeks after is happiness. Everything else is merely a means to an end. So what makes people happy? and how do we not get caught up in feeling like everything we're doing is rote and meaningless when all we really want is the end all: happiness.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi spent nearly all of his life studying this very thing. What makes people happy? Why are some happier than others? He came up with the notion of "flow" and ultimately wrote the book Flow, outlining many of these ideas. He found that happiness is not determined by external forces at all. There is no socioeconomic criteria for happiness, no popularity quota or sucess ranking that will automatically qualify an individual for happiness. Rather, it's an inner thing.

I'm been guiltly of "wanting the weekend to come" lately. Not in a literal sense, but figuartively. I'm always looking beyond the here and now and wishing for something just on the other side. I feel like a lot of us are that way. We get so anxious to get beyond what we're currently doing, that we can't even appreciate what it's like to be where we're at. We're always living to get, and not really getting to live.

There is a latin phrase that goes, "Dum vivimus, vivamus" or, "While we live, let us live." I've decided this is key. Genuinely happy individuals are few and far between. Csikszentmihalyi said, "If Diogenes, with his lantern twenty-three centuries ago, had difficulty finding an honest man, today he would have perhaps an even more troublesome time finding a happy one." Could it be that we're all stuck wishing and forgeting to do something?

Happiness seems to be neither this thing nor that, but growth. Victor Frankl wrote, "Success, like happiness can't be pursued, it must ensue . . . as the unintended side-effect of ones personal dedication to a course far greater than oneself." Happiness is the unintended side-effect that propeled us into greater action and motivation. Let's lead a vigorous life!

I'm a firm believer that the key to happiness is work. We need to learn to enjoy the sweat on our brow, the industry, the dirt on our hands, (the blisters on our fingers from typing finals papers).

I'm still trying to convince myself that finals is a time for great happiness because it calls for a lot of work. We'll see if I can do it.

2 comments:

wings said...

candide, by voltaire. He might have taken 500 irony and satiric filled pages to say it, but cultivating you garden is what truly brings content happiness. Work. I love what you write, and this post resonates with me. The lesson I've had to learn lately is the difference between being busy and being productive, to me the difference is key to happiness. Good luck with the final plans, and enjoy every second, even the stressful ones ;)

Kellee Marie Cook said...

love this post and am happy to see you quoted victor frankl. his book is amazing and brings a whole new perspective to life and happiness.

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