I’m beginning to recognise that real happiness isn’t something large and looming on the horizon ahead but something small, numerous and already here. A decent breakfast. The warm sunset. The smile of someone you love. Your little everyday joys all lined up in a row.
Beau Taplin // L i t t l e E v e r y d a y J o y s
You know what’s better than getting everything you want in life? Not wanting it in the first place! Boy, that’s liberating! Think about it, most of our anguish is caused by unmet desires, cravings, and longing for so many things, people, or experiences. But if we train ourselves to be grateful for what we have instead of feeling deprived of what we don’t, then happiness is not about the glass being half full instead of half empty, it’s a result of being grateful that we have a glass in the first place! Try it out sometime, and you’ll see the smiling is inevitable.
Eudaimonia is an Ancient Greek word, particularly emphasised by the philosophers Plato and Aristotle, that deserves wider currency because it perfectly corrects the shortfalls in one of the most central but troubling terms in our contemporary idiom: happiness.
When we nowadays try to articulate the purpose of our lives, we commonly have recourse to the word happiness. We tell ourselves and others that the ultimate rationale for our jobs, our relationships and the conduct of our day to day lives is the pursuit of happiness. It sounds like an innocent and pleasant enough idea, but excessive reliance on the term means that we are frequently unfairly tempted to exit or at least heavily question a great many testing but worthwhile situations.
The Ancient Greeks resolutely did not believe that the purpose of life was to be happy; they proposed that it was to achieve Eudaimonia, a word which has been best translated as ‘fulfilment’.
What distinguishes happiness from fulfilment is pain. It is eminently possible to be fulfilled and - at the same time - under pressure, suffering physically or mentally, overburdened and, quite frequently, in a rather tetchy mood. This is a psychological nuance that the word happiness makes it hard to capture; for it is tricky to speak of being happy yet unhappy or happy yet suffering. However, such a combination is readily accommodated within the dignified and noble-sounding idea of Eudaimonia.
The word encourages us to trust that many of life’s most worthwhile projects will at points be quite at odds with contentment and yet are worth pursuing nevertheless. Properly exploring our professional talents, managing a household, keeping a relationship going, creating a new business venture or work of art… none of these lofty goals will probably leave us cheerful and grinning on a quotidian basis. They will, in fact, involve us in all manner of challenges that exhaust and ennervate us. And yet we will perhaps, at the end of our lives, still feel that these tasks were worth undertaking. We’ll have sampled something deeper and more interesting than happiness.
With the word Eudaimonia in mind, we can stop imagining that we are aiming for a pain-free existence - and then berating ourselves unfairly for being in a bad mood. We’ll know that we are trying to do something far more important than smile, that we are striving to do justice to our full human potential.
To live a life of full contentment, one must accept everything that they are. Every inch. Every flaw. Completely surrender oneself to the unchangeable flow of the universe. We are who we are. Things will occur the way they do. This is life; learn to be content with it.
We have to cultivate contentment with what we have. We really don’t need much. When you know this, the mind settles down. Cultivate generosity. Delight in giving. Learn to live lightly. In this way, we can begin to transform what is negative into what is positive. This is how we start to grow up.
These seeds will always be tulips, even if at the moment you cannot tell them apart from other flowers. They will never turn into roses or sunflowers, no matter how much they might desire to. And if they try to deny their own existence, they will live life bitter and die.
Sometimes our lack of appreciation for what we have causes us to be discontent with our lives and then continuously search for contentment elsewhere, in other things, and in other people. Not realising that these things won’t bring us true contentment.
Appreciate all that Allah has given you. Say Alhamdulillah in every situation whether you’re rich or poor, happy or going through sadness. Put your trust in Allah and say Alhamdulillah.
And know that their is a blessing even in the most simplest of things and even in the struggle.
ليس الغنى عن كثرة العرض و لكن الغنى غنى النفس
“Wealth is not in having many posessions, true wealth is the richness of the soul.”