http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/news/4-reasons-to-stop-pursuing-happiness-what-to-do-instead got me thinking.
Some old philosopher/psychologist said something like success is equal to life divided by expectations. This is pretty much the Buddhist, Stoic, Hindu, Tao view also. So how does one achieve happiness. Well, happiness is not within our control. It is the result of living a purposeful and meaningful life. A life free of obsession, well no, more like balanced obsessions, a balanced life. What do I mean by a balanced life? See the SMART handbook for details, or your neighborhood Buddhist. In general it is a full life of right actions, right deeds, right thoughts, intents, a life lived by virtues. These produce happiness as a secondary effect. The primary effect is fulfillment of our purpose in life, unconscious or conscious.
When our purpose in life is conscious, we then know what the next right act should be, or at least we have a choice of the next right act, among the choices of next right acts. We then must have a clear conscious purpose in life. From time to time, as one purpose is fulfilled, we may need to ramp up our defining of our purpose a bit.
I have seen the abyss of nothingness, the empty and meaningless center of my human psyche, and realized that a purpose is required, and it is fulfilling that purpose that applies happiness to our lives. It cannot be applied directly. That is why it is so illusive in the modern world, we as a society, have lost our direction, and we cannot buy it. We need to build it for ourselves, each of us. When it no longer applies happiness, we need a better purpose, a more detailed purpose, a better defined purpose to bring meaning back into our lives.
It is this understanding that has been missing from my life, and possible others as well. Oh well, what do I know?