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


On Being Happy

San Francisco International Airport, California, USA

March 6, 2014



"Happiness is almost not worth talking about because the instant you turn happiness into a goal, it isn't attainable any more. In other words, happiness isn't something you can work towards. It isn't something you can put someplace and overcome barriers to get to. It is something that happens in an instant. And the truth of the matter is that you can alter your state of happiness by simply choosing to be willing to have it be the way it is."
... 
This essay, On Being Happy, is the companion piece to On Being Sad.




On first take it sounds like an almost preposterous assertion. Actually on first take it may sound not like an almost  preposterous assertion but rather like a completely  preposterous assertion. It's Werner Erhard's "You can alter your state of happiness by simply choosing to be willing to have it be the way it is.".

Wow! Forget about being around the people who make you happy - and if you're not happy because you're not around them as much as you'd like to be around them, forget about being around them more. Forget about doing the things which make you happy - and if you're not happy because you're not doing them as much as you'd like to be doing them, forget about doing them more. Forget about having the things which make you happy - and if you're not happy because you don't have as much of them as you'd like to have of them, forget about having more of them. It's forget about them as the access  to happiness (at best, they compensate for not  being happy). Rather it's choosing to be willing to have it be the way it is which is the access to happiness.

Be careful. That doesn't disparage being around the people who make us happy. It doesn't disparage doing the things which make us happy. It doesn't disparage having the things which make us happy. Instead it calls into question two pivotal aspects of happiness attained  (if you will) in those three ways.

The first is: when I'm not being around  the people whom I say make me happy, when I'm not doing  the things which I say make me happy, when I'm not having  the things which I say make me happy, do I have any access to being happy like a possibility?  The second is more pernicious: if being happy is a function of being around the people who make me happy or of doing the things which make me happy or of having the things which make me happy, that's really a pretty damning statement about simply being happy, isn't it? It argues that unless I'm being around, unless I'm doing, unless I'm having, then at worst the possibility of being happy doesn't exist, and at best it's in short supply. It argues that happiness is something we're made  or attain  rather than something we are  or have direct access  to. And furthermore it argues if we aren't made happy or don't attain happiness, we can't be  happy.

The idea of bringing  being happy to everyone and anything and everything I'm being around or doing or having, is such a powerful idea that it doesn't preclude being happy even when I'm not being around and not doing and not having the things and people who make me happy. That's powerful. It's happiness as a function of simply being, not as a function of being around or of doing or of having. It's powerful because it proposes happiness as an accessible way of being, as a sourced experience to come from  rather than as a function of anything else ie rather than as a because of  something else.

What is this access to being happy as a function of simply being? Consider Werner's "You can alter your state of happiness by simply choosing to be willing to have it be the way it is.". Try it on for size. Listen: you don't have to dislike or like Werner before trying it on for size. You don't have to disagree with or agree with Werner before trying it on for size. You don't even have to disapprove of or approve of Werner before trying it on for size. Honest! You don't.

If you try it on for size and you get something valuable from it for yourself, if you get something powerful from it for yourself, if you get something useful  from it for yourself, then take it: it's yours. And if you didn't get anything valuable or powerful or useful from it for yourself, then discard it immediately.



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