Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happiness in the East and West

As children we often concluded that the East was the East and the West the West: two different ways of looking and thinking."Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." This of course, is not exactly what is being said, but before the exchanges and the globalization there was a certain laziness and ease in believing this to be true. Human nature, however, is pretty much the same wherever you find it.

We have in Korea those who address their problems very much like those in the West. A Seoul diocesan priest does this with his own website from which topics are selected to appear in the Catholic newspaper. The questions he receives he answers from a Korean perspective.

On a question dealing with happiness, we have to first understand what we mean my happiness, if we are not going to get side tracked. It is easy to think that if we have the material things that we desire, we will be happy. Efforts to better ourselves are healthy but we have to be careful not to think it is everything. In life when we depend on material things to make us happy there will always be something better and this will ultimately bring sadness.

According to the writer the unanimous opinion of those who have studied happiness find that it comes to those whose existence is important to others and secondly is loved and is accepted by others.

The writer mentions that he often gives lectures and asks those in the audience how many are happy with things as they are; very few raise their hand. How many would like to change what they have been given and almost all the hands go up and finally how many have the capabilities of changing what they have, and no one raises their hand.

In conclusion we should try to change what we can change but what we can't change we should try to see it with a different set of eyes and with a more positive attitude, if we do, we will not be filled with unhappiness and even though it be a small amount, happiness will begin to enter.

The writer being a Catholic priest would certainly have a great deal of his attitudes formed by his faith, education, the books that he has read and his experience. This would be true of all of us. The world is becoming one and the mix is such that it would be very difficult to try to keep the East or West as two different ways of seeing life and the world.

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