06 November 2008

Secret to happiness

I want my life to be happy. I want it to be deeply satisfying. I've been watching docos on tv (can you tell) and what seems to be repeatedly coming across is sense of community and not having a great number of possessions seems to be key to satisfaction.

One doco was about a young woman from the UK (Ok she was 35, but that's till young) who went to live with the Kuna Indians half way around the world from her. She was accepted as a daughter and in the month she was there, many of her wounds from childhood were healed. What struck her was that nobody was ever 'alone'. She went to sleep one day and woke to a row of tiny heads of the children all just watching her sleep. There were few possessions and everything was shared with everyone.

The other doco was about 4 women on a spiritual quest who went to live in a convent with the poor Clare sisters. Again, a simple life and a community spirit really did seem to give these women peace. Their idea of friendship was to be inclusive of all around. They did have a rule that your bedroom was your own and no-one was allowed in there. It was to have your own private sanctuary, but I also suspect it might be to stop any possibility of sex happening between the women, not because it would be gay, but because they'd taken a vow of celebacy.

But it really does bring to mind the question about western life. What is so great about the way we live? What is so great about having possessions and climbing over others to get to the top, to be 'the Joneses'? What the hell is so good about alienating everyone around you just so you can say you are number 1?

I'm thinking about this, can you tell? I don't think achieving your dreams is it. Many people achieve their dreams, then its 'now what'? Happiness needs to be a state you are in whether you achieve those dreams or not. Its more fundamental than dreams. More essential. More simple. Don't get me wrong, I think we all need to have dreams, we all need to have goals, I'm just saying the attaining of them isn't what makes happiness. There are people who live in what we westerners would call primative societies in isolated places in the world who have dreams, but they relate to the society they live in. So where we may dream of big houses and huge cars, they dream of getting married and having healthy children, or being a good member of their society. In their case, I think obtaining the dreams are a part of happiness, because they focus on social bonding.

I think that's it. I think its the social bonding that is important, but not just a group of friends who get together. I think it needs to be much deeper than that, a sense of not being able to live without these people in your life. I think we in the west have lost that and probably that has much to do with our downfall, why we are failing.

I once designed a community revolving around a communal kitchen/space and I also wrote down a list of 'rules' you would need if you decided to set up a communal house, similar to a convent situation. I think this might be part of what makes me happy that is missing. I don't have a community. I have my partner and a friend or two, but none of them have that sense of commitment that I'm talking about here, not even my partner. The sense that if you lost each other the world would literally end.

I always thought that needing someone that much made me psychologically damaged. I'm not saying needing to be wrapped around someone 24 hours a day forever, as though you are conjoined twins! I'm talking about them being around and if something happened to them, you would fall apart. So called simplier cultures have that. Children are born into it right from the start. In the west, we've lost it. If you are lucky to find someone you will spend a good 10+ years with, its going to take (sorry, just interupted by JWs there)...you that long to get anywhere close to that sort of connection I am talking about.

So I don't think I am needy after all. I don't think I've got it so wrong and I don't need to ask myself anymore 'why do I need someone in my life so much?' I used to think it was part of my broken brain that I needed to have someone in my life to 'take care of me'. But its not that at all. I am simply aware of that deep need that we all have. Its because I found Beloved and now have that connection to someone that I have been able to balance and to reach out and try things. I think it actually makes me a more healthier person. I have that intense need yes, I need them all the time, but I don't need to be around them all the time. I can go and do my own thing, I just need that connection to always be there.

So, now the question comes, what else do I need to make me happy? Its not about want. We will always have want with us, its about need. And I think I was onto something when I became interested in simple living. I think it really is about living as simply as possible. To have as little as possible and to be able to breathe and just be in your own space.

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