Before we dig deeper into death and how we relate to this reality, we ought to think about the happy feelings we regularly experience. Our days are made up of periods of positive and negative feeling. How clear is our awareness of joy?
A few excerpts from a lovely article by James Baraz, co-author of Awakening Joy:
Although I’m all for enjoying peak experiences when they arise, measuring that ideal against a moderate level of okayness can easily render this moment as “not good enough.”
One of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoons starts off with a smiling Calvin saying, “Here I am happy and content.” In the next frame, he further reflects: “But not euphoric.” Third frame: “So I’m no longer content. My day is completely ruined.” Last frame: “I should have stopped thinking while I was ahead.”
…I recommend that one simply begins to notice moments of feeling okay. If you tend to have a life filled with intense drama, I often suggest being aware of moments when you’re not miserable. That’s a good start.
…As neuroscience expert Rick Hanson says: “The brain is like Teflon for positive experiences and Velcro for negative ones.”
…So if you’re trying to cultivate genuine happiness within yourself, you might consider letting go of trying to experience a gusher of intensity. Awakening joy comes naturally from truly appreciating the simple moments of well-being in our lives.
The full article is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-baraz/happiness-tips_b_6642432.html
The question we need to ask ourselves is: when we are happy, do we know it? How happy do we have to be before we can honestly say that we are well and contented? Can we identify in our experience a minimum “baseline” of happiness where the only criterion is that nothing in particular is wrong, no active pain or anxiety?
Often we float through our days, oblivious to our mind/feeling state unless something is extraordinarily awful or extraordinarily wonderful. How about all those less dramatic moments? Are we happy without realizing it?