Friday, November 21, 2008

The Search for Fleeting Moments of Happiness

Of late, I have come to the conclusion that life is a somewhat mundane event, punctuated on occasion by what I call "fleeting moments of happiness." The number of these "fleeting moments" is what leads a person to decide whether his or her life is a happy one.

Such moments can range from the religious, such as First Communion or Bar Mitzvah (did you know there is a web site to help one plan a successful Bar Mitzvah?), to the emotional and possibly physical, such as a first date, a marriage, or the birth of a child. These punctuation marks in a life are what is remembered when that life ends.

I have also come to believe that successful people have more such "fleeting moments" than those who are not successful and are, in fact, capable of creating their own such moments. Such success can take many forms: abundant wealth, freedom to pursue and fulfill one's desires, a happy marriage. The list can go on.

Those fleeting moments are further punctuated by brief flashes: A memorable sunrise or sunset, a spectacular view, perhaps a wedding anniversary or a promotion at work.

The past few days have been a bit rough and have led me to search for my own "fleeting moments of happiness," to list them and consider the balance sheet. The list is not that long and contains nothing from my childhood.

There was the day I was baptized at the age of 28. A year later, I started building my own house through the sweat equity program of the Federal housing Authority (and lost the same house a few months later when I lost my job). There was the day I got married and the day a few years later when my son was born.

There have been a few memorable camping trips, including a visit to Redwoods National Park, which perhaps left feeling as close to God as I have in the last 20 years. Still, those moments seem fleeting indeed.

Thinking about such things led me to ask a philosophical question: Why are some people happy and others not? What can parents who come from an unhappy childhood do to ensure that there own children grow up somewhat happy? For that matter, what can adults who come from unhappy childhoods do to make their adult lives happier, and at what point does it become too late?

As I write this, another question occurs to me. If the world is constantly trying to achieve a state of equilibrium, then doesn't every happy person have to be balanced by an equally unhappy person? The way I feel some days, there must be one ecstatic person somewhere in this world. You're welcome.

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