Jul 31, 2008

Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Sculpting Happiness Out of A Dense Block of Granite

Sculpting Happiness Out of A Dense Block of Granite

         How many times have you thought to yourself or heard someone else say, “If I only had (fill in the blank) I’d be happy.”  I’ve actually stopped playing that game with myself.  The reason is fairly simple.   I don’t really know what will make me happy.  I might think I know and my vision might make perfect sense when the idea comes into my head but until I get there I have no idea.  And therein lies the problem, rarely do I get to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  I have found it is easy to get distracted by a new dream and a new “if I only had…. .”  I have come to find that chasing a fantasy is rarely fulfilling because even if I do attain what I set out for there is always the desire for the next thing which then leaves me dissatisfied with what I have.   


    It is often said that it is much more difficult to give something up that has given you pleasure than to live without ever experiencing something that you desire.  There have been many studies that have concluded that people living in third world countries in extreme poverty perceive themselves to be very happy.  Simply it is because they don’t know and can’t comprehend what they don’t have. We on the other hand might have a different take on it.  But they literally are blissful in their ignorance.   Meanwhile we Westerners get inundated with images of what we should want and we develop this twisted sense of longing that some how what we don’t have is the key to our happiness.  I’d like to suggest giving up that ghost and taking a different cut at this happiness thing.


            Instead of trying to attain what you don’t have take a look a what you do have and ask yourself a simple question, “Is this serving me?” “Is it satisfying my immediate needs?” The same way it is harder to live without something that you have come accustomed to deriving pleasure from, a short cut to happiness is giving up the stuff that is making you miserable.


            Now that might sound selfish but let me put it into a different context.  A man is walking down the street in Florence, Italy and sees an artist chiseling away at a block of granite.  The artist is standing in front of his gallery and inside are some pretty intricate and impressive sculptures.  The man knows this s genius at works so he stops for a while and watches as the form of a majestic falcon comes into shape on this former piece of granite.  He then asks the artist in amazement, “How can you create such a beautiful piece of work out of a simple block of stone?”  The artist looks at him quizzically and says, “It is really pretty easy.  I just chip away at everything that is not a falcon.”  For him the artistry is in the act of removal.  I urge you to take the same tact with your life.


            I submit that the odds are better that you will more accurately identify things that make you unhappy than to identify things that you have yet to experience that will actually make you happy.  So go for the low hanging fruit first.   Identify the shit list.  And ask yourself, can I remove this from my life.  If so, drop it.  That includes people by the way.  I believe there are very definitely people I have kept in my life simply out of habit who were toxic to me.  When I finally let them go, I felt lighter and I really didn’t miss them. It is a lot like losing weight.  You rarely hear someone complaining because they lost weight.  Lightness equals contentment.  Even incremental weight loss will feel good – provided you focus on what you lost rather than what you have yet to lose.  I find it to be the same for responsibilities that I never wanted to take on in the first place. But that’s a whole ‘nother thread.  For now take stock of what you have but really don’t want and commit to doing something about it.  Let it go.  I know it might not seem easy but there really is lightness to being.


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