Happiness is an achievement. I think you should act happy even if you’re not. When I was a kid, the household could be in a holy terror sometimes; my brother, sister and me running around like wild animals. We’d bite, scratch, yell and beat. Then someone would start crying. My mom would come into the room to stop the madness. She’d come in yelling commands and making threats she was prepared to back up. Sometimes before mom could gain control, the phone ringing would rescue us. The ring was a double-edged sword for it also got us to shut up as we followed mom’s example. No answering machine in those days so she’d always pick it up. My mom – with a switch in hand, eyes bulging with anger and us cowering as we pondered our fate when she hung up – would answer the phone. The phone was not grabbed in a fit, but lifted as if a feather from the receiver. A magical transformation would take place. She was suddenly channeling the voice of an angel, “Hello.” Her eyes bright and cheerful, her voice pleasant as if all was well. We’d still be cowering in a state of temporary grace.
There’s a lot people out there telling you, you should be – what they would term – ‘authentic.’ ‘Authentic,’ to this group, means your feelings and your behavior must match. In essence, they feel my mother shouldn’t have changed her mood. If you don’t feel it, it’s inconsistent with reality and your being hypocritical by denying your feelings. You end up trying to make yourself feel good all the time. There are myriad ways to feel good (‘authentic’) and down that path self-deception is assured.
You achieve consistent happiness by acting honorably regardless of how it might feel at first. Even if it diminishes your so-called ‘self-esteem’ act honorably. The deed shapes the heart. The heart doesn’t shape the deed.
My mother was teaching me. It was her way. She didn’t ponder the lesson ahead of time. It probably never occurred to her what I was learning. It was just the way she was. She taught me, without realizing it, not to dump on innocent by-standers with my crappy mood. Be polite. Don’t kick the innocent dog because your boss made you mad. Don’t go breaking innocent hearts because someone broke yours.
We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights and one of these is the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, we misunderstand how to gain it, like so many other things in our past, happiness has been revised to mean, “If it feels good do it.” Being ‘authentic’ often transfers your inside turmoil or craving into or upon someone’s life. It’s unjust revenge on innocence tastes good but it’s not nourishing.
Do you think we modern folk have put the shell of happiness over the peanut of impulse?