Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


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Bring Happiness To Life

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

August 31, 2022



"You have to bring happiness to life. You don't get happiness out of life. What is there to be happy about? Nothing. When you can be happy about nothing. Just be happy. You know 'I am happy' - those words are sacred. It's like a declaration, it's like a place from which I come, it's like a stand I take upon myself. It's not I am pretending to be happy, it's not I am acting happy. No. I am happy!"
... 
This essay, Bring Happiness To Life, is the one thousand seven hundredth in this Conversations For Transformation internet series. That doesn't mean anything. It's just what's so.

It is also the companion piece to
  1. Contribution II: Happiness
  2. On Being Happy
in that order.




There's a lot going on out there to not be happy about. For clear, incontrovertible evidence of this all too glaring fact, just turn on the morning news (any network / any channel will do). And yes, the construct "out there" is untenable in the context of transformation. Indeed, deployed here it's colloquial, expedient, yet good enough for jazz. Now I'm not about to disparage not being happy about what's going on out there. Not being happy about what's going on out there, is entirely valid. In fact now it's arguably smart, woke, and timely to the point of being de rigueur. Women and men of good will everywhere aren't happy about what's going on out there.

Here's a question for you, however: given that there's so much going on out there to not be happy about, does that preclude the possibility of being happy altogether at worst, or at best move its goalposts so far south that its accessibility is curtailed? Posed another way, isn't it simply insensitive, naïve, crass, callous, cavalier, crazy (if not an outright non-starter)  to entertain any possibility of being happy at all in the face of everything that's going on out there about which we're not happy?

To answer this question not merely authentically but to also open it up so that it produces something globally useful, requires taking a closer look at where the source of being happy actually lives. And no, in this regard I'm not about to espouse the difference between the source of being happy lives "in here", as opposed to the source of being happy lives "out there". Rather I'm about to differentiate between the happiness that's within our realm of power to bring to life, and that which isn't.

At first glance, it seems like there are two  happinesses to differentiate between in this regard: the happiness which is within our realm of power to bring to life, and the happiness which isn't (the latter being the happiness which discontiguously "happens to us" yet over which we have scant power ie when something circumstantial "makes" us happy). But there's actually not two. There's only one  (as the Highlander may have said). Here's your clue: profound happiness is never  circumstantial.

There's a central tenet to bringing happiness to life (as opposed to being happy only when something circumstantial makes us happy). It's Werner's classic axiom "You and I possess within ourselves, at every moment of our lives, under all circumstances, the power to transform the quality of our lives" which is always available - no matter what's happening circumstantially. When we take responsibility for transforming the quality of our lives, all things are revealed to be just (and more than "just": Oh-my-God  drop-dead obviously)  the way they are and the way they aren't - end of story. You can put all your opinions about that, and all your disagreements with it, and all your personal preferences for it to be some other way, down. Bracket them off. They'll be there waiting for you if you ever want to pick them up again later.

That's your access to bringing happiness to life. Prior to bringing happiness to life (as opposed to something circumstantial out there making you happy), being happy derives from accepting things the way they are, and the way they aren't - which isn't the same distinction as agreeing  with (or disagreeing with) things being the way they are and the way they aren't. Profound happiness isn't a function of agreeing with. It's a function of accepting. And accepting (or not) occurs prior  to agreeing with (or disagreeing with) what's happening out there. It's its prior occurrence that makes it possible to bring happiness to life, regardless of any of the circumstances.

Here's one last point I'd like to make: accepting things the way they are and the way they aren't, isn't apathy. This isn't "If everything's OK, why bother?". It's "Bring happiness to life while you're making a difference.". And there's lots going on out there to make a difference with - as women and men of good will everywhere know.



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