It’s been said that, “When you look at your life, the greatest happiness [es] are family happiness [es].” One of the questions, for me, is whether that statement is true or not.
I’ve had many happy moments in my life with and without family members in attendance. I tend to focus on how one quantifies happiness.
Does extreme happiness always have to be accompanied by tears, for instance? Or, is such a deep emotion as true happiness so overpowering that expression of any kind is beyond the ability of the one experiencing it?
What about a lack of happiness? I’ve seen occasions when great sorrow, not happiness, was what took over when family arrived. Where does a person draw the line of family involvement in one’s personal happiness?
Here’s another example of relevant questions. How many degrees of happiness does a person feel and does everyone feel the same degrees of that emotion and label them the same way? I don’t think anyone has a definitive answer to either of these questions simply because each person’s emotional thermometer registers feelings differently based on personal experience.
When you realize how genuinely moved a person is to meet you, does that evoke great happiness, sweet satisfaction, or deep humility coupled with gratitude. If humility, does that constitute a portion of happiness? If you feel satisfaction only, does that mean that conceit has crept into your thermometer?
You see how complicated emotional definitions and signals are? What if you feel nothing at all except seeming boredom when someone exhibits excitement at shaking your hand and talking with you face-to-face? After all, this could be a cousin that you’ve never met before.
Does your lack of emotion mean that you really don’t want to know any more family, that you’re too important to worry about those on the fringe of the family, or that you’re just a jerk?
Or, could it mean, as it does with me, that caution and trust issues rule your actions and responses during first meetings?
Circumstances dictate our responses to events in our lives. The exact experience also contributes to those responses, as well as the circumstances immediately preceding an event.
For instance, many years ago, when I was teaching in an elementary school, I’d gone outside during recess. I needed some quiet time without children’s voices in my ears or designs on my next thought. I spent my ten minutes breathing in the scent of blooming forsythia and tulips in nearby private yards, listening to birds announcing their romantic intentions, and generally decompressing. The afternoon sun warmed my face and hands, clean air wafted past my nose, and a sense of rightness filled me.
On my way back to the classroom, a curious sensation flooded my body. I stopped walking. I closed my eyes and felt my whole body fill with blinding light from the inside. I could see it, behind my eyelids, flooding through me. Such a wave of pure joy washed over me that there were no words, no other sensations, no sound. All else in the world fell away, leaving me held within this personal lightshow.
It ended, and I nearly cried. I felt in that instant the most amazing happiness. I’ve yearned for another taste of it ever since. I wait for the day I can feel that sensation, that joy, again. Where it came from, or why it came, I have no idea. I don’t care.
I only know that that one blazing event taught me more about joy than a lifetime of other experiences. Nothing can compare to it. I wish everyone could have their own instant of pure joy that they can aspire to feel it again.