A recent “theme” was introduced, one of those ideas that percolate up through conversation and take on a life of their own. The discussion was about happiness, that state that everyone seems to aspire to but can’t hardly describe. And the descriptions I heard took on the form of the absence of something rather than the presence of something, as in “my sister won’t bother me” or ” I won’t want to use drugs anymore.”

Our language fails us, as it does so often. And we are so inured to thinking of things in the negative (absence of) rather than the positive (presence of) that happiness eludes us.

An analogy came to mind: happiness is like water – it exists but is only a combination of other elements. Without 2 parts hydrogen and 1 part oxygen there is no water. Unfortunately happiness has no such simple formula although many have tried to sell it as such (some more successfully than others). It’s still a pitch, something to be consumed rather than created.

So what constitutes happiness? At this very moment it is a taco. Crunchy, spicy deliciousness. Is it a taco from that joint in Ocean Beach that was so awesome? No. That place no longer exists, sadly. But it was still a taco and it was yummy.

The words that came to mind, as elements of happiness, were contentment and gratitude. Similar words with a lot of overlap but still distinctive. Contentment sees what is, not what is missing. Gratitude sees what is and appreciates.

At it’s root I believe that happiness is a choice, a choice of what we attend to, and by attending, experience.


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