Always have one forgivable vice. No one trusts perfection. – Ward Clever
Note: No one has kidnapped me, and I’m perfectly fine. I don’t usually write happy, uplifting pieces, and I usually don’t write without using metaphors. It’s still me! Don’t worry. 🙂
Most people have a proclivity towards the rack-and-stack method of evaluating humanity, by necessity. Our capacity for love may be infinite, or as close as mortals may come, but our capacity for numbers is limited. In short, we cannot possibly love everyone the same. We may love everyone on some basic level, but there is no way Ngong Pho Tron is going to feel especially moved or cherished by our love for him (or her, because I cannot currently discern gender in Vietnamese names), even if he or she is somehow aware of our distantly expressed general love.
No, the best we can do is apply concentric spheres, with the general ‘humanity’ being in the largest sphere, acquaintances and contacts in the interim, and our close friends, family and lovers in the small sphere that immediately surrounds us. We are at the center, because we know and love ourselves the most, the best. And we should. Why wouldn’t we? We are the ones who ultimately do everything for us. We have the responsibility for, and gain the benefits from, our own happiness.
In pursuit of that happiness, many of us tend to be businesslike, and develop a set of strict, even draconian rules for ourselves. This is the folly of having happiness as a goal. Happiness is transient. Having happiness as a goal is like having eating as a goal. You’ll do it a few times today, and a few times every day, and it will be good and bad, a mixed bag. Some of it will be delicious and fulfilling, and some will barely qualify as sustenance. What is the point of rigidly adhering to guidelines for a number of days or years, just existing, in hope or expectation of being happy someday? What if you die, or something else otherwise precludes your happiness?
Happiness shouldn’t be our goal! It should be our process. Not a thing that we set for some distant future point, but something we strive to achieve every second of every day of this mostly mundane and miserable life. Happiness shouldn’t be limited to ourselves, either. It should be shared, and repeated. Just as we can light a candle from another candle without losing light or heat or flame, we can make others happy without losing ourselves.
Of course, sometimes we make others happy and we do lose ourselves. Usually those people want all the light and heat for themselves. It’s tricky, but learn how to always save something for yourself around such people, and avoid them – while still loving them from afar! – as much as you can.
It’s often not obvious, but doing things you don’t normally do can be an amazing source of happiness. New experiences, new people, new challenges, all are effective. Consider – if we’re not often happy, it means that our normal palate does not contain happy-making activities, places or people. We shouldn’t get stuck in a time or a place or a mindset. We shouldn’t live life as though we are spirits possessing our own bodies.
If the worst someone can say about us is ‘they tried, but they just couldn’t make everyone happy’, then we can feel good about ourselves. How do we try? A random kind word or act for someone we absolutely do not know, a thoughtful gift for someone we know very well, a bit of advice for someone who needs it or asks for it. It helps them, makes them happy, but it also gives us insight into the human condition.
It’s all too easy to think that we can compliment someone a thousand times but all they will remember is that one time someone said something derogatory. We forget that the inverse is true, and that one kind word or sentiment or expression may be enough to overcome a thousand times of hearing naught but negativity.
Action is the distance between dreams and reality. – unknown