Taken and modified from http://weknowyourdreams.com/happiness.html
Good afternoon readers 🙂
A bit of philosophy for the day.
A situation occurred this morning that I thought deserved a short blog about.
I have apparently thrown something out that belonged to someone, and it had sentimental value to them. I have no recollection of doing so, nor was I aware of the sentimental value to this person.
If I did throw it out, perhaps to me it was simply an object taking up space, but to the other person it was a valuable heirloom that was precious. As a result of apparently throwing this object out, this person now appears to be quite angry with me, even though the object itself had no intrinsic value.
This situation reminded me of discussions I have had with friends some years ago, that involved happiness and objects.
Happiness – a state of mind
In the western world, where we accumulate many objects, we often cling to them in the false belief that those objects will bring us happiness. I note false here, because the objects themselves can’t bring us happiness, because happiness is a state of mind and comes entirely from within our mind.
So, if happiness can only come from within our mind, how is it possible that an object can possibly make us happy. More importantly, if happiness can only come from within our mind, why is it that we cling to these objects so tightly in the false belief that they will bring us, or maintain, our happiness.
Going back to my situation: The person, whose object I appear to have thrown out, appears to be extremely angry that the object has been thrown out. Does this imply that objects can also bring us “anger”? But isn’t anger also just a state of mind?
I guess another question we should ask is, how can an object make us angry if it is supposed to make us happy?
Yes sure, you can say that the person is angry with big bad ME, but it is over an object – isn’t it? So therefore isn’t it the object that has caused the anger arise?
Do objects make us happy?
Let’s look at some other examples from our everyday life, to demonstrate how ludicrous our attachment to objects is. More importantly, let’s reflect on how objects can bring us misery.
We purchase an expensive dinner set. We are very happy, because the object is very beautiful and we enjoy using it. But… we worry that it might get damaged if we drop a plate, or chip it washing up. If we, or someone else, does actually break a plate, we might even feel distraught, upset, or even angry!
So while we feel happy with our purchase, we also feel anxious that it might get damaged. We think that we will be happy with the dinner set, but we also feel anxious, or may even become angry as well. Has the object brought us happiness, or has it brought us anxiety ? Perhaps the object might even make us angry!
We have a precious family heirloom that has been handed down to us from a family member. We look after it carefully and place it into a special cabinet. But our child, while running, knocks the cabinet and the heirloom falls over and smashes. We become upset because we have broken a sentimental piece that brought us such joy when we looked upon it and remembered our family member.
But in actual fact the object has now brought us sadness because it is broken, and we might even be angry at our child! Has the object brought us happiness, or anger?
We purchase an expensive drawing (or painting) that we admire and enjoy its appearance. We place it carefully away (because of it’s value) so that it doesn’t get damaged, but insects damage it irreparably and we must throw it away. We are dreadfully upset and angry that this could have happened, particularly as it had been so expensive.
Has the object brought us anger and sadness? But wasn’t it meant to bring us joy?
While these examples are largely fictional, most of us have experienced this sort of occurrence at some time in our life. While we can say that possessing these objects did appear to bring us “momentary” happiness, the objects also brought us anxiety, anger and sadness.
Have the objects themselves brought us anxiety, anger and sadness?
State of mind
Aren’t these emotions just another state of mind – like happiness? Have the objects themselves caused us to feel so dreadful?
Perhaps the cause of our unhappiness, when they break, get lost, or are thrown away, is because we cling to them, because we are attached to them, in the false belief that they will somehow bring us happiness?
Perhaps our life somehow feels less full because we have lost this precious item that was somehow meant to provide us happiness – into eternity?
Objects change with time; they degrade, break, or are lost. Should we cling to them as they were, and feel angry that they have changed.
Some say that everything is impermanent, and that nothing remains the same!
Perhaps if we learn to be more flexible, and less attached, we will not feel such loss or anger when our objects break or are lost.
A tree that does not bend with the wind will break – will it not?
Final thoughts – reflection
Why is it that some of the poorest people in the world, are the most happy?
Why is it that some of the wealthiest countries have some of the most unhappy people?
Objects are simply objects; perhaps just a tool to do something – a dinner plate is to eat off. They have no intrinsic ability to make us happy – or for that matter, unhappy.
If we remain attached to our possessions, and see them as a source of happiness, perhaps they will only cause us pain and suffering – Like the rigid tree that will eventually break in the wind!
Will you still cling to your precious dinner plate?
Or will I give you a hammer 🙂
Bye for now,