Are you afraid to be happy?

Are you afraid to be happy?

Does happiness scare you? Are you embarrassed about happiness? If you answered yes to either or both of these questions then you might find this article of interest…

by Roger Housden from the Huffington Post

Why all the embarrassment about being happy?

Wendell Berry asks in his poem "Why." Why indeed! In the novel "Snow," by the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, one of the characters says to another, "You got drunk so you could resist the hidden happiness rising inside of you."

What is it about happiness — not to mention joy — that prompts these authors to suggest we might be afraid of it? We can be all too quick to share our suffering — our problems and worries, our fears and troubles. Suffering has a weight to it, and that weight can easily form into an identity. It can pass on its weight, its seriousness, to us, and all its good reasons for taking up so much of our time.

But the kind of happiness — even delight — that might be scary is ungraspable, and I would submit it has no reason. It doesn't consolidate our identity so much as dissolve it for a moment. Perhaps this is why it can be frightening.

Sure, there is the apparently more solid happiness of a new contract, a new relationship, an unexpected windfall, but that kind of happiness, based on conditions, doesn't last too long. Its effects are usually short-lived. This means that, like hamsters on our wheel, we are then on the lookout for the next thing that might come along and satisfy the vague sense of lack that can shadow so many days.

Yet, sometimes we can slip into a state beyond word and thought altogether and come to a rest — a condition of union, in which we and our surroundings are not distinct and separate entities but are joined below our surfaces in the wider circle of life. In those moments, there is no one in particular looking and nothing being looked at, but simply an effervescent, glistening aliveness. Who we normally take ourselves to be has disappeared, and so too has that vague sense of lack.

This is a deeper, yet simpler life…

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