Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Happiness Is the Fruit of a Process

Over the mountains, far to travel, 
people say, Happiness dwells.
Alas, and I went in the crowd of the others,
and returned with a tear-stained face.
Over the mountains, far to travel, 
people say, Happiness dwells.   
In the Kyeongyang magazine a teaching 
professor in psychiatry begins his article on
Happiness, with the above poem by the 
German poet Uber den Bergen. All of us 
know that we never have happiness under 
our control. Known, but at the same time 
sad. Happiness is the desire of all but not easily realized.
Many are the rights that humans can truly hope to realize.
The right to be free from a disease. Just up to a few 
centuries ago half of the babies would die. Those who were 
fortunate to live through infancy would face hunger and 
contagious diseases. Those able to see their
grandchildren were few. To die in old age was rare.
Today this is taken for granted in many societies.

The right to liberty is something like air we breathe but 
about a half a century ago women were not able to vote 
or own property. One's freedom came with the social class
they belonged to at birth. Freedom of encounter, religion, 
street address and the like were all controlled.
There is no question that we are now freer, healthier and
live longer than in the past but are we happier? The Korean 
Constitution makes clear the various rights citizens 
have: right to be respected, pursuit of happiness, life, 
liberty, equality... What is interesting is that all except 
happiness are rights but happiness is not—we are given the 
right to pursue happiness. 

This was added to the constitution in 1987, it is believed this 
came from the United States Declaration of Independence. 
No one is able to give one happiness, neither the
State or society but only the opportunity to pursue it.
Originally happiness was the practice of virtue for a 
full life which opened one to the goodness of happiness. But
it suddenly changed into emotional peace and pleasure. 
Results  of mental activity is behavior but now we have
mental activity without behavior considered as happiness.

A person who is a good cook prepares a nutritious and 
delicious meal. An expected result of her skill. But what has
happened is we have cancelled out the expert cook, the 
ingredients, the devotion of the cook and the 
process and look for the emotional joy of a delicious meal.
The pursuit of happiness is much of the same as the 
example of a delicious meal.It's a process. If we cancel the 
long period of preparation and just expect happiness,
something is seriously amiss.

The results of 'emotional happiness' do not last long. When 
we get rid of an uncomfortable situation and feel relieved 
or receive what we desired this doesn't last long. The 
Dopamine effect is brief. Happiness requires a long period 
of preparation. Here in Korea happiness seems to be a rare 
commonity. The writer makes clear he believes 80 percent 
comes from our effort.

He concludes the article with a list of the virtues and vices.
The practice of one and the avoidence of the other. And a 
line from Psalm 128: "You will eat what your hands have
worked for, happiness and prosperity will be yours."

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