Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy All The Time

I own my judgment around those who pursue happiness… to me it seems hedonistic, narcissistic, and addictive… take a happy pill, get an adrenaline rush, live like it’s forever Saturday night and life is a party. So, when a friend suggested I read a book titled, “What Happy People Know”* I scoffed. He laughed. And then I read it.

My cynical critic was online as I cracked the first chapters. The author talked about evolution like it was scientific fact and made all kinds of unsupported assertions about the human condition... it was easy to put the book into the category of “feel good fluff.” I kept reading.

And then he began to explore the biological and biochemical realities of our brain structure and system, quoting legitimate research on emotional responses and brain chemistry. I was hooked.

Two quotes resonated:

“Contemporary fear almost always fits into one of two categories: fear of not having enough and fear of not being enough. Having enough and being enough are the two factors that best ensure survival in the modern world, so fears about them are rooted to the core of the neurological fear system. They’re as deep as the fear of death...”

“…The antidote for fear is love… And the purest form of love is appreciation.”

So, he had me. He scientifically described a condition that I have long suspected… that fear and love cannot occur simultaneously. And that the surest way to move from fear is to appreciate. And when we appreciate, we are tapping into the joy of who we are and who we were created to be. And that makes me happy.

*Dan Baker, PhD, “What Happy People Know” New York: St. Martins Press. 2003