Are you happy?

iBrian

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I particularly remember certain Christians approaching myself with the question: "Are you happy?"

The assertion was, that only knowledge of Jesus would make me happy.

However, underlying that presumption is a more complex argument.

For example, is a person who thinks more on their beliefs therefore less happy, because they are more open to various new possibilities, and therefore uncertainties?

And is a person who thinks little on their beliefs because they are previously justified actually happy, or simply ignorant?

Is ignorance really bliss when squaring up to aspects of Divinity? And does Faith really lead to happiness, or simply a different way of perceiving events?

General starter...
 
If you're happy and you know it, raise your hand.....

It's an interesting issue - do you need a faith to be happy? Can you think and be happy? Can you challenge and expand your beliefs and be happy?

Substitute complacent for happy, and you have one thing. The last two, I think go to NO. The first reduces to "what is faith" or "what's a religion", to which, see thread elsewhere. Why complacent? 90% of the time when we say "happy" we mean complacent... "Happy now?" "Are you happy with the service you received?", for example.

I know many people who are quite happy not thinking, not challenging their beliefs, not looking at what or why. I tend not to hang around with that crowd :)

Me, I'm always looking and learning. Deprived of the opportunity to check and test things, I go batty.
 
I said:
I particularly remember certain Christians approaching myself with the question: "Are you happy?"

The assertion was, that only knowledge of Jesus would make me happy.

What about Jesus? Knowledge of his life and beliefs about it or the "Jesus spirit?" Personally, I've found that too many people focus on the former and not the latter. They have no idea what it means at all when translated into an individual's life, but have convinced themselves, with the approval of others, that the knowledge, alone leads to happiness.

Then there's the question of a definition of happiness. I'm proposing that it's a state of being whereby an individual feels joy, peace, loved, lovable, loving, authentic and in touch with him/herself and all around him/her (including God) and experiences him/herself manifesting their human potential fully and authentically.


However, underlying that presumption is a more complex argument.

For example, is a person who thinks more on their beliefs therefore less happy, because they are more open to various new possibilities, and therefore uncertainties?

And is a person who thinks little on their beliefs because they are previously justified actually happy, or simply ignorant?

Does it really matter if the individual experiences the qualities noted above? Can anyone outside an individual really judge another's happiness or lack of it?

I will contend, though, that people who are happy--though few and far between--are usually pretty easy to spot.

I watched a very interesting movie on HBO last night (an indie, I suspect) on this very subject. I think it was called "Thirteen Conversations About the Same Thing" and starred Alan Arkin, Matthew McConaughey, and Amy Irving (those that I can remember). These people made choices and most were bad ones. One man who was perpetually upbeat and positive was the only one who was truly happy. It was quite an interesting piece--the kind you have to watch several times to really get.


Is ignorance really bliss when squaring up to aspects of Divinity? And does Faith really lead to happiness, or simply a different way of perceiving events?

I would say that each person must seek a way that works for him/her--that results in the state of being described.

IOW, the truth of happiness doesn't lie in it's source but in it's results.


General starter...
 
It's a fascinating question. I suffer from clinical depression, which means at times, I'm quite miserable, sometimes irrationally so. As a whole, though, I'd have to say yes, I'm fairly happy.

Throwing religion into the mix makes it even more complex. Within the rigid Fundamentalist mentality I've seen some Christians embrace, I'd be completely miserable. Like brucegdc, I have a very enquiring mind. It's part of who I am. Being told to just accept what others tell me and that asking questions was wrong would make me depressed and frustrated. On the other hand, I do find joy and pleasure in my form of Christianity because it fills in some gaps which I need to have filled. Christianity was one of the first places I found acceptance for what I was, not for what someone else told me I should be. Yes, knowledge of Jesus does make me happy, but it is the nature of that knowledge that does so, and it's far more complex than it appears. I'm pretty sure whkeith's knowledge of the goddess makes him happy, but I'm not sure that the person who assumes knowledge of Jesus makes a person happy is going to be thrilled about that idea.

I'm afraid I have a hard time understanding why someone would follow a religion which does not benefit them in some way. I've argued long and loud with people on the subject, to the point where I'm sure both of us have thought, "How can she think that?" Yet even when things were at their most heated, I've assumed that the person I'm arguing with's faith gives them some joy, or at least release from pain that other things don't. If it can be argued that "all roads lead to God", can it not also be argued that "all roads lead to joy"? I do realize that some people do seem to have rather odd notions of what constitutes joy.

I'm looking forward to reading other people's opinions.

CJ
 
Namaste all,

thanks for the thread Brian :)

in our way of thinking (Vajrayana) we'd stipulate that happiness is a temporary mental state that is capable of producing a non-lasting bliss. Bliss, however, is what we're aiming for.

Bliss is an odd word to most people.. usually when the word is heard, there is a little string that goes with it... "ignorance is bliss" and they, inexplicably, develop a dismissive attitude towards it.

in any event... i'd say that i'm generally happy and, on occassion, i experience complete and total bliss... at least i believe it to be complete and total :) who can say though? hopefully that feeling will continue to deepen and develop through my practice :)

i've also noticed a strange thing... it seems that some people are really only happy when they have a chance to make others unhappy, either through physical, mental or emotional means. inexplicably, some people take pleasure in harming others.

i would be quite happy (pun intended) to spend all my time with people that had a positive outlook and were generally optimisitc.

in my own experience, there's been both hard times and easy times.. things have gone terribly wrong at times... so wrong that, when i really reflect on it.. i'm amazed that i'm typing on this forum today. not "in spite of it" as some would say, rather, due to it, i find myself very happy and comfortable with myself.... such that it is. perhaps it's a different way of looking at things... however... even the hard times, the emotionally destructive times, are all opportunities for us to learn about ourselves... and that, in and of itself, is a cause of joy for me.
 
I'm happy that we finished moving! I'll be even more happy when all the moving boxes are emptied!
Not yet though!
Oh maybe in a minute. Almost finished my tea and biscuit.
:)
 
I wonder what their definition of happiness is, too. Heck, I'm happy that I made it through my oral quiz in Japanese class today, and I was happy to have a long, no-particular-topic conversation with this one gentleman who has been sitting in my ethnic studies class, and I'll probably be happy to finish the AIDSWalk charity walk I'm going to do (especially if I don't encounter people who tell me that HIV/AIDS is a punishment from G!d for the sin of homosexuality. :rolleyes: )

I've encountered fundamentalist Christian "evangelists" from quite a few different walks, and many of them were a bit unnerving with their "Are you happy?" or "Have you been saved?" I read somewhere that Jesus didn't say that one had to follow him in order to be saved, but that EVERYBODY has been saved just by his personal sacrifice (any and all Christians please correct me if I'm wrong here and please post the particular portion of your bible that I'm trying to get at, thanks.) Heck, I think that it said something that even Satan will be forgiven at the end (again, please correct me and/or post portion.)

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
 
The issue of whether Christ's sacrifice covers all human beings or Christians only has actually been a subject of rather hot and heavy debate among Christians, I suspect for centuries. Polycarp and I have been accused of "watering down the Gospel" and "spreading false witness" because we are of the opinion that Christ's sacrifice was sufficient for all human beings, not just those who happened to hear of him in such a way that they could embrace him.

WHKeith, another poster here and a good, real-life friend, used to be a devout, Fundamentalist Christian. One thing led to another, and he's now a devout Wiccan. I am as devout a Christian as he is a Wiccan, yet I cannot believe that God would condemn one of the finest people I know to hell because of the details of his beliefs. I've also known people who were turned away from Christianity by the actions of some Christians. To me, any God who would embrace the latter and condemn the former "ain't worth worshipping!" as my father would put it.

As we've all noted, happiness is variable. Last week, I was hanging out in WHKeith's hot tub after a day spent on the beach on vacation. Today, I'm full of a cold and, on the surface, I'm miserable. On the other hand, I remember the joy of surviving a Japanese oral exam (nihongo ga watashi no senkoo desita), and the fear of having blown one. I've read the notion that people have a set point of happiness to which they tend to return. For example, people who believe that life would be wonderful if only they'd win the lottery/get married/get a promotion tend to find themselves no more happy after they do so. I don't find that worrisome, despite the problems I mentioned earlier. If winning the lottery won't automatically make life wonderful, that also means that I don't have to worry much about becoming like some of the awful people I've known who seem completely soured on life.

I do not believe one particular faith holds the secret of happiness or even of misery. I certainly can't believe that of Christianity as a whole! Among other things, there are people whose version of it I must assume does something positive for them, while that same version might quite literally be the death of me! :eek: Faith gives me a surety which makes joy easier for me, but I'm not an Atheist, nor have I ever been close to being one. I won't insult the Atheists I have met by saying they can't be happy because they have no faith. To me, that's too much like saying they can't be moral for the same reason.

Excuse me. I think I'm rambling again. Blame the cold, if you like -- I certainly will! I will also comfort myself in my misery with the memory of happiness experienced a week ago, and the knowledge that I will experience that particular form again. Happiness is, I believe a choice, but I've rambled enough.

CJ
Edited by me. Who knew that part of Japanese past tense in one Romanization system would be flagged as profanity?!
 
Sorry about the "profanity" issue - I've removed the filters, so it shouldn't be a problem again. :)
 
I particularly remember certain Christians approaching myself with the question: "Are you happy?"

From Louis...
I don't remember ever hearing that question from a believer ...
I assume the answer would depend one's own definition of "happy".
For me, it has always been synonimous with complacency - being
content with whatever you already have. I discovered that early
in life - perhaps too early - maybe that explains my lack of ambition.
At my present age of 70, I definitely am happy - meaning I have
everything I ever wanted to have - done everything I ever wanted
to do - always setting my goals within easy reach.
Even this task of "figuring out believers" could be made easy if all I
do is pick out flaws to "explain it away"...
But it's an interesting question, since so many of your posters seem
to be "not happy" with who or what they are...
I wonder what it would take to make some of them happy ...
 
I said:
I particularly remember certain Christians approaching myself with the question: "Are you happy?"

The assertion was, that only knowledge of Jesus would make me happy.

However, underlying that presumption is a more complex argument.

For example, is a person who thinks more on their beliefs therefore less happy, because they are more open to various new possibilities, and therefore uncertainties?

And is a person who thinks little on their beliefs because they are previously justified actually happy, or simply ignorant?

Is ignorance really bliss when squaring up to aspects of Divinity? And does Faith really lead to happiness, or simply a different way of perceiving events?

General starter...
Perhaps the "Christian" should have asked, are you at peace with self, with life, with your future. Had that been the way the question was posed, then you would be assured that they were implying that only walking with Jesus would bring you that peace, regardless of the current circumstances of your (or anyone's) life. The "happy/peace" they might have been trying to ask about is one called peace beyond understanding.

Like being in a labrynth, and you must get out, but there are so many doors to choose from, time is running out and the maze is closing in on you. Suddenly, with no outside influence you can discern, you know exactly which door to open. And being so certain of that knowledge, that the anxiety slips away, as does the pressure from the "clock" counting down. It is almost anti-climatic, however the pressure and stress stripped from the body is anything but anti-climactic. Once out, you wonder how you knew that was the right door, or how did you know not to choose any door (any choice) that it would come together whith out your action, and you can't answer that part of the puzzle, only that you knew, and it brought relief, and perhaps pleasure.

I think that is what the Christian is asking you when they ask if you are happy. And if so, then their implication is you can have that if you walk with Jesus.

Now if it were me, I'd invite you to sit down to a chess game, and we could talk about the classics... ;-)


v/r

Q
 
Namaskar,

I said:
I particularly remember certain Christians approaching myself with the question: "Are you happy?"

The assertion was, that only knowledge of Jesus would make me happy.
The same thing happened to me once in Leicester, but then it wasn't a Christian but a member of ISKCON ("Hare Krishna"). Although I assured him I already found my path, he insisted that I should get to know Krishna because I didn't look happy enough, in his eyes.

Although I feel quite happy most of the time, I no longer care much about the small ups and downs since I got totally blissed out several times meeting my guru and during meditations.
 
I. Brian, I am a Christian (you may know me from elsewhere ;) )
There is a difference between happiness and joy.
Joy is the internal satisfaction that comes from knowing that Christ, my saviour, made me a promise... for my salvation, and that Christ stays true to his promises.
I also feel joyful that I am in a position where I have the time to spread the word about the best thing to happen to mankind since creation. I also feel joyful that God answers my prayer in a very amazing, and real (sometimes scary) way.

Happiness, is something I may not always have... My computer might go wrong, or I my alarm may go wrong and set my day out of sync... or I might do or say something stupid that makes me feel bad later. But, I always have, underneath the joy that comes from inside, knowing that I have a saviour, and a friend who loves me, enough to die for me.

But, as a Christian when I am having a bad day, I try to be as nice as I can... because I am always carrying the name of someone much greater than me.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
James 1:2-3
God allows things to test us, things that seem like they're all going wrong... in order to produce endurance, through our faith.

I may not always be happy...
I always have Joy! A deep satisfaction that I am working for a boss who loves me, like a brother, and who died for me!

May I ask what your religion is? (I, Brian)
 
A good reply, MadHatter, and it's good to see you around. :)

As for my religion - I have a spiritual path, rather than a religious one - though many Atheists think that I'm Christian, and many Christians think I am an Atheist. :)

I've seen God in a range of rather profound experiences. Yet somehow having to fit those experiences within the frame of any particular doctrinal position, or else dress it up in one or more exclusive sets of literary perceptions, would feel rather false of myself.

Ultimately the concern is one of works, rather than faith. :)
 
It's great to find someone who accepts that there is a God!
Would you say that the God you know of is the same God that is described through the Bible? - or not? (just curious that's all, I have a friend who is in your situation, he wants to know more about what I believe in)
 
There are actually a lot of people here who believe in God - we even have a few Christians at CR! :)

I tend to take the view of different cultures perceiving God in different cultural ways - sort of like how 100 people of 100 different cultures and languages saw a beautiful flower, each would write of it in a different and unqiue way.

I've actually just started a thread on different perceptions of God here.

By the way, have you read any of okie's short pieces here? Definitely something recommended if you ever have a few minutes between doing more important things. :)
 
Those writings are pretty good, I will take a look at them more when I have some time.
 
One has to wonder if some members of those churches don't suffer from guilt if they are not happy all the time .. I mean, if belief in Christ is equated with happiness, does this mean they are a bad Christian if they have a bad day like the rest of us?

Anyway, for myself I've noticed that, in general, I am less happy than acquaintances who seem to never consider the deeper issues, who never question their belief system or way of life or .. much of anything. But I am certainly not miserable by any means.

I tend to think that one's focus has a lot to do with it, and that one can, to a large extent, make oneself habitually happy or miserable. Happiness and sadness exists in us in equal measures .. we've all had experiences with both and its often the weight we assign to one or the other that rules our lives. I've had days when the best I could do was to tell myself, well its not raining .. and to hold that thought to get me through. I do go through periods when its harder to practice this technique, but I am never unaware of my potential, I just sometimes seem to choose to allow myself to feel the sadness as a matter of course, as something I need to learn from at the moment or understand .. I don't know .. hard to explain .. but sometimes sadness seems .. "necessary." I've had some of my deepest and most rewarding insights during periods of sadness. I kind of accept my various feelings as they arise as just parts of who I am and I try not to cling overmuch to any of them .. not even the happiness, as I would not really be a complete, truly rounded self if I experienced just one emotion all the time.
 
I would say that I'm a pretty happy person these days. Like one of the other posters, I do suffer from clinical depression, but I'm on decent meds for it. Where my life used to be one long string of wanting to toss myself off a bridge (which I successfully resisted, as you'll probably guess), once the antidepressants started kicking in and working properly, I started feeling like what I imagine "normal" people feel like. This is not to say that I was *never* happy before the meds started working, just that it was a lot harder to cut through circumstances and my state of mind. Even in the depths of my worst times, I would have moments of bliss -- they tended not to last very long, but they did happen.

There are a lot of components to happiness. I don't always have good days, but I feel a sense of being in a good place in my life. I feel connected to my deities and the spirits of the land and my ancestors. Questioning and examining things, including my own beliefs, makes me happy. Learning new things makes me happy. I'm capable of awe and feeling joy and incredible inspiration in the face of nature's power. I feel a sense of bliss when I see the beauty of a sunset or watch lightning cross the sky deep in the night. I feel an intense connection with the world when walking the beach in the mists of autumn. Seeing the nesting eagles over the lake across the street brings a feeling of being truly blessed by life and the Gods and Goddesses.

I find happiness in doing ritual, communing in prayer with the spirits that surround me and aid me. I find happiness in creating rituals, speaking with friends who are pursuing the same spiritual path and goals, and in the research I do that helps us find ways to bring ancient traditions forward.

I find happiness in cooking for friends, unpacking my things into my new home, and finding new restaurants in the area. Bookshops make me happy, and a good cup of tea. Art, good poetry, a well-told story, and a quiet day all make for happiness.

Pursuing a spiritual path gives focus to happiness, but it isn't the only thing that can produce it.
 
Practical approach to happiness

For myself, even though I am a postgraduate Catholic, I want to give thanks to God for all the good things that come in my life.

Yes, I am happy, because, and honestly, I have adequate materials things to keep me in a life of conveniences and some luxuries to boot.

I am doing all right with my family and I have a good satisfying circle of friends.

In other words, I am not at the moment suffering any kind of material need, nor health problems. And by God's mercy and grace I hope and pray that He would continue to be thus favorably disposed toward me -- even though I confess to being a relativist atheist and only also correlatively a theist of a relativist sort.

What do I enjoy a lot of? Writing opinions in message boards, this is much better than talking, because you can't talk as much as you want to in a live-talk group; but in a message board, we all can write as much as we want and have something to say, which we think is interesting or useful or new or a 'discovery' from our own part.

This sounds like a kind of a testimony; so be it.

And again from a postgraduate Catholic now attending service in a free evangelical church, and also a relativist atheist and relativist theist:

PRAISE THE LORD!

I guess I am basically a materialist with religious attachments, or to my own vanity, a rationalist.

Pachomius2000
 
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