19 Jun A Culture of Happiness – another essay by Kim Peart
Several weeks ago Kim Peart, someone who’s becoming a regular contributor to this happy community, wrote a short piece for this blog that by all accounts was well liked. So here’s another one by Kim…
I was delighted to discover, through an inner experience, that it was possible to allow myself to be happy. It took discipline and steady practice, but with time I found that being happy became a natural part of daily life. I have also found that it is possible to cultivate inner peace, to quieten the jungle of the mind and enjoy the clarity that comes with the experience of silence. It is delightful to have these choices in life and I am always pleased to encourage others to enjoy happiness and the art of having a clear mind. It is my hope that a culture of happiness will grow in our society and help to improve the quality of life for all.
Cold winds can blow through the streets of our cities and the answers to problems that seem easy can elude solutions completely. One of Bob Hawk’s 1987 election promises is famously remembered, “By 1990 no Australian child will be living in poverty.” Though this statement is often viewed as a political gaffe, it reveals a heart felt desire to see happiness shared in our society by fighting poverty. Unfortunately, poverty and homelessness have become entrenched and do not appear to be going away any time soon. Poverty bites deeper when people in work cannot afford to properly care for their health and wellbeing. The society around us is acquiring a meaner face and it may be wondered if we are losing happiness by the truckload as a consequence.
Though it may sometimes seem that we have to dig down a long way to find the gold of happiness in the streets of Western civilization, if we are prepared to put in the work, that gold can be brought to the surface and shared. Political vision cannot create happiness or eliminate poverty, just as religions with doctrines of peace in their heart often go off to war. Unfortunately, politics can often become like a religion and religions can be quite political. Adherents of political and religious views can often look to social solutions through the practice of their policy or doctrine. Many good people are involved in politics and religion, but unfortunately, like Bob Hawk discovered, the realities of the World are somewhat more tightly bound to institutions that, like great lumbering dinosaurs lurching across the landscape, do not always watch where they tread.
Happiness cannot be dished out through organizations, whether social, political or religious. Institutions are the ways in which peoples” lives can be improved, but happiness is a personal choice and when this is understood, it can be seen that happiness is shared in our society by the actions of individuals who care about others, whether they are working through an organization or personally offering the hand of friendship to people in need.
Poverty and suffering can be eliminated in our society, when enough individuals find ways to help others to be happy. That would certainly help to create a much more peaceful World. Just as our society is the sum of each person, each person is a part of society. It is a mighty unhealthy practice to alienate parts of the body of our society through allowing poverty. This only serves to create unhappiness and the fear of crime.
We live in a tough world, so the digging to get down through the thick concrete of our cities and open the goldmine in the hearts of others can seem daunting. If we can step beyond fear and self-interest and enjoy seeing happiness multiply in society, then the rewards are many, socially and personally. We improve our World by helping others, which also helps us, because we live in this world.
The great book of Nature offers many lessons that can teach us ways to cultivate the culture of happiness, such as the simple feedback process of cause and effect, where for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Just as our species has emerged through Nature, the natural laws still function all around us and through us. Simply by this law of Nature, the happiness we give will return a benefit and the happiness we fail to share will also haunt our steps.
Another lesson can be seen with natural evolution, which works by cooperation as well as competition. Nature is able to create a healthy environment for all life on Earth by all organisms cooperating in the great web of ecology. This process is not conscious, simply the way natural law works in very detailed ways, from the micro systems to the whole planet. The ferocity of competition is the method used by Mother Nature on the cutting edge of her kitchen to cook up new and improved species, like us. It takes both cooperation and competition for life on Earth to work. There is a lesson in this for our society. Life cannot function by competition alone. There must also be cooperation to create a healthy society and improve our collective happiness quota. Take it from Nature; it is the natural way. When we buck natural law by driving the economy with too much emphasis on competition, we create unhappiness and poverty; not every individual is cut out to compete like a tyrannosaurus.
I often reflect on the words of Papuan actor and mythologist, William Takaku, who collects the traditional stories of Papua New Guinea to help keep their culture alive. William says, “We must learn from Nature. When man sees himself as separate from Nature, he is doomed.” As we advance our amazing civilization that appears to be on the verge of expanding among the stars, we can also consider the qualities of life that we enjoy. If we can fly to the Moon, how hard can it be to have happiness on Earth? Don”t wait for others to tell you when to be happy; the key is within. From within, from heart to heart, we can learn from Nature and allow a culture of happiness to take root in the World and grow into a garden of peace.