Life After Enough: ‘Happiness, Enough & Equanimity’
Happiness corresponds to an economy, to calculations, to weighings. It needs varieties as much as contrasts (external comparisons- jds). Satisfaction (enough –jds) is as fatal to it as impediments.
Perpetual Euphoria, Pascal Bruckner, p37
This life and its purpose, prior to the French & American Revolutions and the ensuing imprimatur of ‘the pursuit of happiness,’ was never about ‘happiness.’.
The purpose of this life was salvation, character building, well being, and or earning one’s return – not happiness.
Now happiness and the pursuit thereof – is this culture’s mission. If anything we have a ‘duty to happiness’ even though we can’t define it and fall back on the analogy of pornography (I know it when I see it.)
Furthermore, rather than religion, the duty – the pursuit of happiness has become the opiate of not only the masses but the upper crust celebrity sniffing hyper class elitist asses.
This pursuit, in great part, according to Bruckner in Perpetual Euphoria, is a result of ‘progress.’
When we were hunter and gatherers – we acknowledged the food on the ground from a higher source (Hebrew National?). When we became farmers and ‘produced’ – the product became our doing – we acknowledged ourselves increasingly though we covered our bets and prayed for rain. With medicine’s advances we don’t have to rely on God’s will and grace but a Pfizer, Lilly or Merck and Obama Death Panel reprieves.
And deferred gratification – critical to character building, faith, and salvation - has been eradicated by credit and Viagra in the name of ‘happiness’ NOW.
Even religion has caste asunder ‘Gehenna (1) and Brimstone’ knowing happiness sells with the pitch of greater happiness in Heaven, the World to Come with just the purpose of ‘afterlife insurance’ premiums (church, synagogue dues etc.)
Hope is deferred disappointment
The sun will come out tomorrow
Tomorrow lyric from Annie
And if we presently in a state of ennui or unhappy – there the hope that happiness will be here ‘tomorrow.’
But as Krishnamurti wrote, ‘hope is (but) the absence of happiness.’ And please remember, Hope was a town in Arkansas that gave us Bill Clinton.
The pursuit of happiness and its pr flack hope are motivated by dissatisfaction resulting in the pursuit of more.
More & Happiness
Happiness is ‘getting what you want’ until what you wanted wasn’t ‘enough’ (again)
The Answer given by the white collar villain (in the sequel to Wall Street) when he was asked for his response to: ‘everybody has a number, what is your number?’
The hope for and the delusional pursuit of happiness typically leads to the seeking more. More is an insatiable desire that paradoxically puts sustainable pleasure out of reach leading to perpetual dissatisfaction (2). More has become the means and the ends – a sign of ‘election.’ Yet, the pursuit of more, better, now for happiness usually becomes less, worse, later Worse, the resulting disappoint eventually may yield sequentially disillusion cascading to self recrimination (I am a failure).
There is no happiness only relative positioning (my spouse makes more than your spouse – or the Gaines Gravy train commercial ‘my dog’s bigger than your dog’) and momentary sensation.
More is never enough
Getting more of what you want becomes in time ‘not enough’ as more is a comparative outside in game dependent on externals unlike enough which is an internalized inside out process.
Equanimity & Enough
They’ll be plenty of peace and tranquility in the world to come
Paraphrasing Judaic Thought (not Spielberg Follywood Judaic thought)
Mussar is a thousand-year-old Jewish system for personal growth, specifically in the realm of character improvement. In Mussar, equanimity – rising above the good AND the bad – given life’s ups and downs is a more preferable ideal to pursue than happiness in our character building to earn our return (Teshuvah).
Consistent with Mussar thought, my take on the purpose of this life is to find meaning IN one’s life, continuing to complete one’s incompletions (soul curriculum) through faithful character building spiritualizng the material, materializing the spiritual inside out to earn one’s return with the equanimity of rising above the inevitable good and bad.
Easier said than done.
And that ain’t happiness.
Enough (aligning personal resources to achieve life and after life goals while healing financial anxiety putting money in its place to assist one’s transcending to their significance) is just a means to the inside out work of finding meaning In one’s life and or character building, salvation, etc. There may be a certain contentment yielded by enough from the storms and cultural onslaughts of 50,000 commercials of dissatisfaction, more, not enoughness. But Enough isn’t happiness. If anything enough forces a confrontation with ‘what next, meaning, making a difference, and or self definition’ in the midst of one’s spouse or insignificant other famished (3) saying, ‘for better or worse but not for lunch!’
Enough with equanimity doesn’t stop the storms, make for smooth sailing – but allows easier navigation towards one’s significance.
"When it's over, what will my life have been about" - Rabbi Harold Kushner
Enough - healing financial anxiety, puttin money in its place, to transcend to significance with equanimity....
(1) Gehenna - in the traditional Jewish view of the afterlife, Geihinnom is the place of punishment and purification (unlike hell there is a statute of limitations on the time spent in Gehenna)
(2) the Latin for 'enough' is satis. Thus dissatisfaction is 'not enough'
(3) think a state of being perplexed such that the heel of one's hand concurrently smacks one's forward as it leans backwards.