Happiness is our natural condition. All you have to do is look at a healthy infant to notice that their default state is one of unfiltered joy. As we grow older, we learn to add to our list of needs. Our wants and needs become confused. Eventually, as Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out, “Things are in the saddle and ride mankind.”
Our attention has become fractured. We are losing our ability to intuit. We seek increasing stimulation from external sources. When the stimulation is no longer present, when we feel we are not able to meet our “needs,” we pick up the pace or become despondent.
We have to create opportunities for silence – periods of meditation where God speaks to us. This will aid us in understanding our points of individuality and our points of connection. Before we can value our differences, we must accept the things that we have in common. This begins when we seek the answer to the question: “Who am I and why I am here?” I believe that an honest effort to answer that question will prevent the moral nihilism that too many people organize their lives around.
We have the tools for happiness. They can only be accessed when we strip away the extra. They are only effective when we are honest about all the parts that make us who we are. Only then can we discover and work with our real strengths. The world has need of our gifts. They can only be given when we engage in addition by subtraction.