Monday, April 13, 2020

Searching For Happiness

In the Weekend Letter column of the Catholic Times, a novelist introduces us to a four-letter Chinese expression 邯鄲之步, (Citizens of Handan were admired for their walking style). Lesson learned: Beware of being enamored by what we see and forget what we can't see).  

A young man in the time of the Yuan Dynasty (BC 403~BC 221) admired the way those in another area of the country walked. He leaves his own country and goes to Handan to learn but before he succeeds in learning the new gait, he forgets his own way of walking and crawls back home. 

As a believer in God, our spiritual life often imitates this way of acting. Humans constantly want happiness, but, inevitably, we never find what we seek. In search of happiness, we are filled with many false ideas and forget that for Christians happiness is a gift—grace.

Anxiety is a component of the human condition. It afflicts humans in many forms: deficiencies, demands, sadness, suffering, and death. We can't give up our human desire for earthly happiness even if we know it will not be realized; this effort is the essence of will, even when goals are reached, other aspects of our desires will appear for the will to pursue. 

So, while trying to expel anxiety you can't do anything other than try to change the appearance of the anguish bothering us. This anxiety is inevitable, and one pain is expelled by another, and when one pain disappears, new pain appears. 

When we don't get what we want, its value seems to surpass everything, but once we get it, it looks different and a similar desire captures us and we hunger for it. In other words, lack is a prerequisite for all joy. Hence, satisfaction or happiness is nothing more than emancipation from what we lack.

Therefore, even if we strive tirelessly from hope to hope we may never end satisfying ourselves. This is because we don't realize we are pouring water into a bottomless jar. In this way, even if it is not realized, it leads to desire that cannot be given up, and this desire ends only by being blocked; if left alone, it goes on infinitely.

These desires appear differently to the lower and the upper classes in society. Poverty is the scourge of the lower classes but the upper classes have a more severe scourge, boredom, the search for sensory stimuli to be rewarded with pleasure. At this time anxiety is the choice between truth or pleasure. 

With a strange type of vanity, I try to be happy in this life with my own powers, but I cannot live properly with these powers. With faith and prayer, we need to realize that without the help of the one who gave us these powers we will not achieve what we desire.

We should accept the difficulties of life that we can't change; a true believer is not uneasy about life but has gratitude for graces received and responds in prayer.

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