It is an experience that we live every day. Sometimes we are happy, sometimes we are sad. What to do? What to think?
All of us desire happiness.
We live for it and without it we would die. It is the reason we wake up every morning, even when we aren’t aware of it or don’t know exactly what that happiness looks like. Although it may seem evident or even cliche to speak about it, our desire for happiness is something very mysterious.
Here are a few thoughts that might be useful to bring up:
1. One of the first steps to learning more about ourselves is to learn about our desires. Do you desire to be happy? The next question you must ask is what do you understand by happiness? What does it look like? Do you think you can reach it? If yes, how?
2. Recognizing our desire of happiness can make us feel very vulnerable. To accept that we want, means to accept that we are wanting, that we lack something. Thus we must recognize ourselves as dependent, needy, and fragile.
The video illustrates this point very well. Our cat friend starts a new business. He is creative and willing to take risks. He puts himself out there and, in a certain sense, exposes himself to the attack of the needles of unhappiness. Sometimes it takes very little to plant a seed of unhappiness in our heart. A seed of doubt, of mistrust, of frustration, of sadness, of desperation. It is never easy when others stomp on our dreams.
3. Sometimes we might be tempted to throw this desire in the trash. The moment arrives when the desire for happiness becomes a burden to carry, a wound to endure. Perhaps if I abandon this desire, I wouldn’t have to suffer so much. This is a temptation that we all go through, especially during the most difficult moments of life.
4. Yet, ironically, many times unhappiness becomes a road to greater happiness. You see, there are levels of happiness.
– There is the type of happiness that buying new clothes gives us.
– Then there is the type of happiness that comes with a realization of one’s own value and dignity. There is the type of happiness that comes when one reaches one’s dreams.
– Then there is the type of happiness that appears when someone loves us, no matter our weaknesses, defects, and failures. This is a love that seems to undeniably confirm that our existence is really worth it.
Many times we spend our efforts and time searching for superficial types of happiness, types that will never respond to what we are really looking for. Still, the experience of failure and unhappiness can lead us to discover deeper and richer kinds of happiness that we never knew before.
In the cat’s life, the experience of the love of the mother, of her agape, supersedes and gives a new foundation to all the rest. It is a love that worries not for the superficialities, rather it goes right to the heart.
5. Finally, when love comes knocking on the door, we must allow it to enter. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, speaks about two kinds of sorrow:
“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Cor 7:10)
There are good reasons to experience sorrow and unhappiness, but when these emotions take over and prevent us from opening up again to the experience hope and love, this is what Paul calls the “sorrow of the world”, a sorrow that produces death. The other kind, one that remains open, is one that can produce repentance and renewed vigor.
The first kind we see in the moment of greatest despair when the Cat doesn’t answer his mother’s call, the second is at the end when he opens his mother´s message and allows it to give him new life.
Looking for more? Find some wonderful insight on happiness from Fr. Matthew Spencer, O.S.J in this brief video.