Happiness is a firecracker sitting on my headboardHappiness - The Fray
Happiness was never mine to hold
Careful child, light the fuse and get away
‘Cause happiness throws a shower of sparks.
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.On Joy & Sorrow, from The Prophet - Khalil Gibran
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Happiness is, in my mind, a great initial value for Deep Space Robots, as I believe it rests as the foundation for our two core values we share and work towards as a team, namely humility and hunger. If I am to hope for living a life of humility and hunger, I find in reflection that happiness is a prerequisite of high need.
Peace and Wholeness
For me to explain how I arrive at this belief, I need to initially propose a definition suitable for happiness. An ideal definition must encompass not just happiness as experienced professionally, but happiness also as a personal lived reality (indeed for true happiness to live in the former, it must flourish in the latter, and vice-versa).
Happiness is that in you which finds peace and wholeness in the present situation, regardless of the pressures present in the moment.
I propose as a definition, happiness being that in you which finds peace and wholeness in the present situation, regardless of the pressures present in the moment.
Happiness is that which knows you are home wherever you go. That which knows the life you lead is going somewhere, even as the step you take right now is painful. That which maintains and keeps you whole while carving space where there was once crowded noise. I feel I must make a critical distinction at this point, in order to avoid a mistaken appearance of sentimentality and, for lack of a better term, woo. For a soul to live happily, active and intentional steps must be taken. To live is to ache, and Gibran says it acutely when stating that “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.” Happiness, like love, hopefulness, humility, and hunger, must be willfully committed to as a choice. Humans by nature have minds of restlessness, hearts of confusion, and wills in the dark. To live a life which finds peace and wholeness in the present moment (that is to say, to live as human) is therefore in direct opposition to the inclination of your collected nature. It is a brave act indeed to rest in this moment, to feel it fully, and to accept its invitation to be fully human. Happiness, therefore, is found, not as an escape from pain and pressure, but from leaning into it.
This then brings me to another helpful association that has helped me wrestle with happiness in my own life, namely that of resilience. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. As we live and work, difficulties arise. Deadlines come ephemeral out of the ether, imposing and daunting. Clients create emergencies and impose challenges. And in the personal sphere, sickness or family pressures can leak into the heart of a human, leaving little room for hope, or happiness, for that matter. Yet it is in this tension and angst that in the miracle of the human heart, there’s a deep knowing that arises which says, “A little further”, or “Have you thought of it this way?” or “Try again” or, at a level beneath all of the above, “This is good”. Resiliency is born out of a heart which knows it is safe, which knows it is home, and therefore frames any decided-on action, not through the lense of risk/reward, but through the lense of ever-forward/always-home. Again we see this do/rest interplay at the heart of happiness, an optimistic drive to action rooted in an identity of belonging.
It is in the heart of resilience that we find happiness, and how else could this be? For resilience brings right action and movement not just from the center of a human out, but also reaches out to the hearts of the community it finds itself in, pushing them along with the selfsame knowing encouragement it gave to keep itself going. Resilience says to the friend, to the coworker, to the boss, “A little further”, “Have you thought of it this way?” “Try again”, and chiefly, at the heart of the heart, “This is good.” To live fully, to keep moving, to survive the burdens of life, is to live resiliently, which itself lives in the heart of actionful happiness, which is to say happiness, which is to say, “that in you which finds peace and wholeness in the present situation, regardless of the pressures present in the moment.”
From this vantage point, I hope the view is clearing on my initial statement that happiness hoists up humility and hunger as their foundation. From the basest forms of happiness is innate a resolute spirit of resiliency which actively pushes not only the individual forward in hope ardent, but those near to the individual as well. To live with hunger, to live with a drive, is sustainable only through an insight that you, the you who is known and loved as he is, is enough, and that to endure this insight through life’s burdens is to take action in the spirit of survival, growth - resiliency. And from what other spring can humility bubble up except from that spring which sees itself as no more and no less than what it is, and that knows the other as both the journey and the destination, as enough and equal, whole and right, just as it itself is whole and right. You see, to truly live humbly and with hunger is to live resting in happiness.
I do not say all this from a perspective of accomplishment. I am far from understanding what it is like to actively live this reality day-to-day. Resiliency is fast at work in you and I, actively working to carve out the spaces in us needed to see more clearly who and whose we are. Yet every day I try and see life through this lense, through every hard call, hard deadline, and through times I work to prevent a hardened heart from developing after arduous calls. I try and understand my life through a lense of happiness - that is to say - through a nondual lense of ever-forward/always-home. And in moments where happiness seems far away and elusive, I rest, take a moment, and remember that maxim, for how can that which is always here be far away?
In conclusion, I want to leave you with some encouragement (as is fitting in light of our understanding of resiliency). In this life, we are going to be placed in very hard situations. There are going to be what seem like battles, obstacles and burdens, and in truth many are just that (this is quite encouraging, is it not?). But through each one, try to remember that you are safe, that you are enough, and that you are becoming - and already are - something incredible. This is not said with the purpose of belittling, dismissing or minimizing the battles, obstacles or burdens, far from it. Rather this is said to give you shelter and purpose during those moments. In the next hard call, in the next crazy deadline, knowing this just might, in some small way, give you what you already have: happiness.