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The Key to Happiness

The short answer to the question, "What is the key to happiness?" is "Observation of all that is, acceptance of others without condemnation or arrogance, and compassionately using what exists in loving ways for loving purposes."

Being an Observer

The long answer has to do first, with the meaning of what we "see" when we observe life and second, what we do with the information we gather. The Miriam-Webster Dictionary describes "seeing" as:

"1. to take cognizance of by physical or mental vision <saw that the boat was being driven ashore> <the only one who saw the truth>
Synonyms behold, descry, discern, distinguish, espy, mark, mind, note, notice, observe, perceive, remark, twig, view
Related Word sight; make out; examine, inspect, scan, scrutinize; penetrate, pierce, probe; consider, study; appraise, ponder, weigh
Idioms fix one's eyes (or mind or thoughts) on, occupy oneself with, pay heed (or attention) to, take notice of."

Having an Opinion

I am writing about descriptive observation and nothing more -- what we "see." In order to observe what is important to other persons it is necessary to listen and understand the other person's point of view, even though you may not agree with it.

When we do not agree with what we discern about the other person, we may encounter internal static by experiencing our own fear and anger. Our emotional reaction lets us know that we have formed an opinion about what we have observed. Our emotional response gives us energy to move on to the second part: what we "do" about what we have observed.

Developing an Objective

We will address the question of what to do (if anything) about what we have observed and the judgment we have made about it. We may be thinking, "I love you," and then decided to express our love to the other person. Our objective become that of communicating appreciation and love.

Or, we may be offended by another person, and wish to arrange not be treated badly in the future. Our objective then becomes that of self defense.

Choosing Methods to Achieve Our Objectives

Here is another place we may create pain and difficulty in our lives, without meaning to do so. We choose the methods we will use to deal with what we find wonderful or offensive, methods with which to accomplish our objectives.

We have genetically methods "built in" to our brains, by which we accomplis the objective of staying alive, methods that do not need to be learned. We "fight or flee" when our fear lets us know we are in danger. We don't have to think about it; we just react.

In relationships, "fight and flight" are not effective ways to create emotional intimacy. They are not methods meant for intimacy. They are methods meant for survival. So the methods for creating intimacy in relationships must be learned, and added to our repetoire of learnings extracted from our life experiences and stored for future reference.

Loving Treatment of Others Is the Most Excellent Way

We may not able to agree fully with others about the most loving ways to treat each other. Such understanding is something about which we all continue to learn. But almost everyone agrees that love is the best way to live, modeled by most of the world's great religions. Here love is used in the sense of how we treat others and ourselves.

I recently had a chance meeting with a man mailing books, and in chatting with him discovered he was mailing a children's book called "I Love You More," by Laura Duksta and Karen Keesler, illustrator (www.hippieandthebaldchick.com). It is a simple children's book with beautiful, childlike illustrations. I think it will become a best seller, having already sold 20,000 in 6 months, mostly for adults. This reflects the interest in and the significance of love for everyone, and the importance of treating others in loving ways, the way we would like to be treated by them..

So the methods of love are the methods we have to learn by trial and error. They are considered by many to be the way to connect with the spiritual dimension of life, to draw on the resources of the universe. However you may think of what is most loving, the challenge is not so much defining it, but to finds ways to concretely apply love in your own life. Those specific ways of loving will reflect the meaning of love as you define it..

I wish you success in your own journey to become more loving.

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