Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Reasons to be Cheerful
How you see the world is more important than how the world actually is.
The lives of happy people and the lives of unhappy people are often only different in their own eyes. If we look objectively at the facts and circumstances of the lives of these two groups of people, we will find much that is common to both groups.
Illness and economic hardship, divorce and failed romances, disappointments, losses, pain and bad luck will be found in every life, whether its owner has a half-full or half-empty disposition.
It may be true that some of us have more bad luck than others and have therefore acquired a less than sunny view of life. It may also be true that those of us who tend to be cheerful enjoy better health and more rewarding relationships.
However, it is clearly not true that cheerful, optimistic, positive people are freed from the suffering and disappointments of human existence. Even the most fortunate among us must face ageing, disease, the loss of loved ones and, eventually, our own death.
What is important about how we view the world is not that our viewpoint changes the reality of our lives -- it is not that we will be healthier and have more friends. What is important about how we view the world is that this is the center of our identity.
As a person, our identity is largely defined by how we view the world, what we assume about others, our capacity for compassion, our habits and practices, what we expect of tomorrow, and how much we pay attention to the present moment. But it starts with that world-view. It isfundamental.
I see much that is wrong in the world. In fact, the world is a terrible mess of injustice, poverty, disease, needless death, and constant suffering. But the world is also a place of great beauty and joy. I am always interested in meeting people because there are so many wonderful people in this world, even if there are many more who are not so wonderful.
I choose to be a person whose view of the world does not overlook its flaws, but never loses sight of its many wonders -- a view centered in an appreciation of the gift of this irreplaceable present moment, married to a hopeful attitude towards the future.
-- I wrote this a little more than a year ago, in the AOL journal that was the precursor to this one. I took that journal down a few weeks back, and have recently re-posted some photos from that journal. It made me think of looking back for some of the thoughts I had captured there, and gave me an opportunity to reconsider some of what I had written. I enjoyed doing that, and thought I would share this bit.
By the way, the picture was taken at Camp Sawyer in the Florida Keys a few years ago.
Posted by Neil at 12:52 PM