No Time To Read? LISTEN In English On-The-Go!
ho doesn’t? your mind interjects, wondering how others feel about it. Wonder no more. Your resourceful mind instantly digs up an answer for you and begins quoting Abraham Lincoln: “Folks are usually about as happy as they make up their mind to be”.
Yep. And you know what? I’m going to agree with him. Easy, easy now, ladies and gentlemen. I know that most of you strongly disagree with Mr. Abe and I, and I don’t blame you for it. After all, which one of us would refuse happiness, presented with the choice? See? I understand.
Allow me though to offer to you a novel perspective and I wager that by the end of this article, you will agree with me. On what?
“Folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be”, of course.
Very good. Just checking to see if you’re with me.
We know that people’s perspective on happiness, as with everything else, is shaped by their own experience, therefore resulting in a wide range of points of view. There is a common denominator though to all these beliefs: most agree that happiness is a feeling. Especially in our (American) culture, the word happiness is being thrown around so frivolously that its meaning has become diluted; stripped of its true value, merit and practicality.
“I’m really happy with the way today’s meeting went” or “I’m so happy I finally got to meet my online date, in person”. “I heard that our local grocery store will begin carrying my favorite brand of wine. That makes me happy; giggle” Umm, lots of giggles following a couple of glasses of that “happiness”.
This is how most people talk when speaking of happiness, but that’s not you, right? You know that the happiness generated by such ordinary occasions, is fleeting, volatile, as it can be ruined by the next bad news or uncooperative person. When your happiness is conditioned by anything or anyone outside of yourself and relies on anyone else’s actions, it can be easily lost.
What do I think vis a vis of happiness? Why, thank you for asking. To begin with, I perceive happiness as an effortless, steadfast, genuine, unwavering state, which encompasses feelings of joy, wellbeing, peace, contentment, fulfillment. In other words, all is well with my world; as much of it as it is under my control. And most of it is. Yes, I heard you, yet I insist that your world is indeed very much under your control. But this is another subject matter, for another time.
I never found out who “they” are, but they say that to be truly happy, one needs three things:
1. Someone to love,
2. Something to do,
3. Something to hope for, or to look forward to.
I definitely subscribe to “their” theory. It may appear simplistic, but bear with me; I promise it’s true. Let us begin with:
Someone to love – Ah, to be in love. But is this what love is? To begin with, we have to accept the fact that love is not only a sentiment, as in “being in love”. As wonderful and desirable as being in love is, it is not the essence of love.
Right now I’d like to make sure that all my lovely readers are familiar with the three Greek nuances of the word love. The Greeks, deep thinkers that they are, came up with three different words for our one word LOVE. I actually wish that we could develop such words in English. It would avoid lots of misunderstandings. So, let’s begin with:
Eros, representing romantic, sexual love. As I’m typing, something just occurred to me: Is sexual attraction a form of love? I don’t think so. I think Eros describes only the Romantic aspect of love. Ok, here’s another thought: Romantic love leads to sexual attraction, but sexual attraction without the romantic love, it’s simply lust. What do you think?
Philia – Represents the love between friends. This type of love cannot exist unless two persons feel some kind of connection and offer equal participation. Philia cannot be a one-sided love. Both individuals participate in this relationship in equal measure. It’s always assumed that members of a family, are also friends; siblings in particular. That is not always the case, but true for the most part. Family bonding represents the closest and most sincere form of Philia. The Japanese word for friendship is kenzoku, which basically translates into family. Take two friends who are not blood-related, the love word that describes their friendship, is kenzoku; a word with very warm connotation that is akin to a family relation. In other words, friends are considered family.
Mencius, (whom I haven’t personally met, but obviously some have since they are quoting him) put it very nicely: “Friends are the siblings who God never gave us”.
Of course, Philia implies mutual trust, honesty, dependability, empathy, and especially acceptance, which is one thing that humans long for the most. By contrast, rejection is something that scars people for life, and sadly, it sometimes begins with family.
Right Now I Want to Address YOU:
Those of you who don’t have a friendship with a family member, for whatever reason. Not only that, but you haven’t had a true friend even outside the family circle, in a long time, if ever. You have not experienced Philia in as long as you can remember, if ever at all. Please take this to heart: you are missing out on so many things. Your life can be enriched, become rewarding, and yes, happy, if only you considered Philia. A friendship love.
Remember we began by saying that in order to be happy we need someone to love, someone to experience Philia with. If you are the one who said: ‘I just want to be happy’, this is your first step toward that happiness, if you choose to take it. No, friendships don’t fall in one’s lap. It takes a degree of interest on your part, some practical steps, and a bit of time. That’s all.
Just to get you started on your quest for a friendship, I will give you a few key characteristics that draw people together.
To some people making friends happens organically as “they” like to say these days. Others need a bit of focused action, and this is what we’ll look at here. So, let’s assume you decided to take initiative and seek a friendship. What should you look at, first?
To begin with, people look at commonalities. Sometimes people strike a friendship, but soon they realize that they don’t have any common interests. A passion for something in particular, things they can spend time doing together and not die of boredom. If that occurs, don’t feel obligated to carry on pretending you’re having a grand time. Still, you can remain friends, continue to care about one another, lend a hand; you just don’t spend a significant amount of time together if that time is a bore.
Can be the beginning of a friendship. I don’t know of a catalyst as strong as that of life experience. When two people discover that they have gone through similar experiences in life, especially when the experiences were negative, they tend to drop their guard and quickly open up and become friends. That’s a good thing, for a while, or sometimes, but you also have to be careful.
Why do I say this? Well, while having experienced the same type of pain in the past has a binding effect, too much sharing or focusing on the past pain, can become a hindrance.
If both parties have been injured and have not dealt with their respective scars, there will come a time when the time spent together becomes so heavy, no one will listen.
Both need to be heard, need to be understood, need to be placed first. In that case who will take the second place? Friendships forged under the momentary powerful sentiment of being understood, eventually find that they are not most viable.
No, I’m not saying that two people with similar painful past experiences should not become friends. I’m just cautioning you: be careful. A true friendship, one that can bring about happiness, has to be balanced. Never overwhelm your friend with your troubles, especially if you know they have gone or are going through the same challenges as you. Take the necessary steps to address yours professionally. While sharing your problems with your friend is absolutely fine, don’t make every conversation about your problems. Place them on the back burner for a while and have fun. Let your friend be your friend and not your counselor. You will eventually lose that friendship if you don’t make that distinction.
Are a very basic consideration in choosing a friend, seeking a friendship. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but let me say this. If you seem to click with a person on several levels, but common values is not one, my advice is to not put too many eggs in that particular basket, hoping to reform that person. It could happen, but there’s a bigger chance that it won’t. Make the decision to step into and cultivate that friendship, with your eyes open.
There are several other things on the list of what draws people together, but I’ll stop here. In the next post, we’ll address the third type of love according to the ever-thinking Greeks.
Speaking of the Greeks, here’s a fun fact. A few hours ago my brother texted me with some news: “I used one of these family ancestry sites and guess what? We are 100% Greek”. Seriously? We always thought we are Latin.
“Why am I fair-skinned and blue-eyed then?“, I asked. Not that being a blonde Latino would make more sense than a blonde Greek, mind you.
Oh, that, came his answer … here’s the explanation.
“The ancient Greeks were said to be golden-haired and fair-skinned – in the Iliad Homer describes Achilles as having “red-gold hair,” with Agamemnon and Menelaus having red beards! The gods themselves are always described as golden with brilliant blue eyes!
The Greek word for blonde was ξανθός (xanthus), “yellow,” “gold,” “blonde.” The xanthus color in the hair, as well as extreme beauty, light skin and luminous eyes, were considered by the Greeks as proof of divine descent.
There you have it.
That explains my fairness and blue eyes. Next, I’ll have my brother do some research. Who’s to say the Greeks never had a goddess called Gabriela?
As for the (dark) Greeks, clearly, something went wrong with their DNA along the way. Bummer.
What About AGAPE?
In closing, I encourage you to read the Philia Love one more time. I know as I type that this will sound cliché, but try to be the friend you wish to have. Be open, nonjudgmental. Remember that diamonds come from rock and dirt. Be patient. Stay positive. Be the best friend a friend would like to have.
See you next time when we’ll talk about Agape.
Until then, much love from my heart to you & yours.