Meditation on Happiness

We begin with music. It is our intention to influence our own happiness. Breathe calmly. Imagine you have full control over your hormonal levels and neurotransmitters, especially oxytocin and dopamine. Would you keep them at a constant, optimal level so you can experience the most happiness that is physiologically possible. A standard response to that is that our physiology doesn’t work that way. We can’t engineer our happiness like that, we would become like heroin addicts.

We keep listening to the music and become aware how it does influence our neuronal response. It’s as good as it gets. Happiness is an experience, so it has a duration, a beginning and an end. We know there is an important difference between evaluated happiness (after the fact) and the experience of happiness as it happens. Reflecting on happiness makes us aware of its fleeting quality, it humbles us with respect to what we strive for. What can we hope? How ambitious can we get when it comes to happiness?

We breathe. It somehow doesn’t sound right to call happiness an ambition. In our culture, it is supposed to be a by-product of something else, some achievement. This social side of happiness requires that we don’t consume it like apathetic junkies. When we talk about happiness, we mean respectful happiness, or socially accepted happiness. Essentially, this is the happiness that can serve as an example for other people. The public image of happiness plays an important rule in the social bonding of large groups.

In our complex world, we can register other people’s happiness, even when they are far outside of our social environment. We envy them sometimes, and we get anxious. The key to sustained happiness might be a relatively small but meaningful community of people who can understand each other’s happiness. Rather than jealousy, we would feel pride if our neighbor is a little happier than we are. Rather than feeling miserable, we feel invigorated and motivated. Such is my intuition of a happy coexistence of human beings. We are still listening to the music, and we are sharing a breath to end this meditation.

Meditation on Happiness was originally published on Meandering home

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Smile encounter

I ride the Seoul subway, line six. A small young woman in a colorful dress gets in and takes a seat. She is not Korean and she wears a scarf. As relative outsider in this monocultural megalopolis, I instinctively feel solidarity with the timid girl, whose face was ridden with acne. I smile at her.

When I sit down I leave a respectful distance between me and the muslim woman, but I notice that the laces of her right shoe were neither properly tied nor tucked inside. I hesitated. Should I tell her? Or is looking at a female foot frowned upon in her cultural paradigm? Would it sound like a lame excuse to start a conversation of the kind her religion tends to guard so strictly, the kind with an erotic dimension, with distant fantasies of impossible lovemaking as pleasurable distraction from the spleen of our daily lives?

I decide to say it.

“Your shoes.”

The young woman’s face shone. She smiled at me three times and thanked me after she had put her footwear in order. Then she thanked me again as she alighted one station before mine, her eyes twinkling and vital. I observed the unapologetic smirk on my own face in the opposite window. This is the kind of experience that makes me make sense of the world. This is the kind of scene I love to write about. I want to convey, and understand, how a few seconds of interaction, wordless and genuine, can make us so happy.

Smile encounter was originally published on Meandering home

Cheer up well done

So I have come to an inversion:
your recognition will feel like an insult,
(This is a defense mechanism)
I have accomplished officially accomplished
close to nothing, and I am still
closing in to nothingness.

This morning (but the diction is universal)
I realized that all future things will be mere
projections of the past, ways to finish off
my story, that has no desire for a conclusion
nor to be put down.

 

Artwork by Ianbourgeot.com

Cheer up well done was originally published on Meandering home

November 4. Just look at the photos.

I have some sandwich from the fridge with cheese and pepper before I head out to the lively maze of old Aleppo and onto the dusty main road. At 11am I meet Murdoch and the clock tower and we spend a few good hours together. It turns out our interests are to a great extend aligned and we exchange addresses. There is some exhibition of Iranian refugees from a caravansarai he is planning in Berlin and I might be able to help him with some contacts.

Happiness is an interesting phenomenon. I don’t want to do the usual blahblah-thing about the topic, so I cut straight through to chubby parts. One way to be good is to keep happiness at a bearable distance, like always looking for Her (or Him). That’s it folks.

Why do we write?

November 4. Just look at the photos.

I have some sandwich from the fridge with cheese and pepper before I head out to the lively maze of old Aleppo and onto the dusty main road. At 11am I meet Murdoch and the clock tower and we spend a few good hours together. It turns out our interests are to a great extend aligned and we exchange addresses. There is some exhibition of Iranian refugees from a caravansarai he is planning in Berlin and I might be able to help him with some contacts.

Happiness is an interesting phenomenon. I don’t want to do the usual blahblah-thing about the topic, so I cut straight through to chubby parts. One way to be good is to keep happiness at a bearable distance, like always looking for Her (or Him). That’s it folks.

Why do we write?

November 4. Just look at the photos. was originally published on Meandering home

November 4. Just look at the photos.

I have some sandwich from the fridge with cheese and pepper before I head out to the lively maze of old Aleppo and onto the dusty main road. At 11am I meet Murdoch and the clock tower and we spend a few good hours together. It turns out our interests are to a great extend aligned and we exchange addresses. There is some exhibition of Iranian refugees from a caravansarai he is planning in Berlin and I might be able to help him with some contacts.

Happiness is an interesting phenomenon. I don’t want to do the usual blahblah-thing about the topic, so I cut straight through to chubby parts. One way to be good is to keep happiness at a bearable distance, like always looking for Her (or Him). That’s it folks.

Why do we write?