Are you happy?

Isn’t this the big one?

Are you happy?

Well, are you?

All the time?
Through thick and thin?
And it never disappears?

If you are, you can look away now.

As for everyone else…the bad news is that if you think you can gain happiness by reason, logic or will, then save for the odd moment or two — OK, maybe a few years all told — you never will. And that’s simply a fact.

In any event, what is happiness?

A state of mind?

But what’s a mind?

I’m serious.

If you’re going to use words that you’ve been told about, learnt or believe you understand, and you’re going to hinge your entire argument upon, then I’d expect you to be able to say, much like you’d be able to describe the heart, its exact location, its functioning and why it (i.e. the mind) is the sole cause of happiness and nothing else.

But I’m being tendentious, right? I’ve no need to take issue with your assimilation of what you believe is the place where happiness arises but then again, as you’ll discover if you follow me on Twitter, I’m no longer in the mood to put up with the usual banality and specious arguments about all those things we were told as children — more like brainwashed — that was or were supposed to be the apogee of life. But it’s not just that, it’s also the fact that we never or rarely test the lexicon of well-worn words that we believe represent the things that we’re trying to describe. (The other thing that’s in the mix, but I’ll leave for now, is that everything changes.)

Take something as obvious as a tree. Yes, a tree. How do you know it’s a tree? I’m waiting? You only know it’s a tree (assuming your language is English and not, say, Russian (дерево)) because you’ve been told it is. Even if you didn’t know what it was, what about the colours, patternation, leaves and the changes across the seasons?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

I understand why certain things are named what they are. Qua humans, it enables us to make sense of the world, to function and, in some cases, rare I grant you, to survive. But when you get right down to it, we don’t know what any of it is save for what we’ve been told or is part of our conditioned past and that means when we come to describe happiness, absent all the labels, it’s almost impossible to do so.

Of course, that’s not what you want to read. If my reading of the consumer market is correct, you want someone to tell you how to get and keep happiness, as if it were a thing.

Personally, if I was speaking to you, I’d invite you to consider a different approach. I start with a very simple question:

What’s happening in this moment?

And I’d want to know your actual experience and not what you’ve read or listened to elsewhere, namely, awareness, consciousness, a happening and all those other psycho-babble terms that seem to be trotted out these days as if they were the truth.

For the moment, I’ll leave it at that but you’ll find that over the coming days and weeks I’ll begin to explore further what it means to consider the narratives we’ve been told to believe are the hallmark of a life well lived etc.

Take care.