AN EXPLORATION OF LOVE and HAPPINESS

By: Mark Pierce

I have met many who say there is no purpose and meaning but everything in the universe is meaningful because everything can open the heart to a greater experience of loving. The shooting star, the fallen leaf, the impoverished and the wealthy—everything including the stones beneath our feet are opportunity to open our hearts wider to our potential of living a loving life. Our purpose is simply learning to love.

In this regard, I just read Norman O. Brown who comments on the poet’s Rainer Maria Rilke’s wisdom. He stated that, “The child, ‘has no anxiety about losing things.’ Everything a child has sensed passes through his love, and is illuminated by it: and whatever has been lit up in love remains an image, never more to be lost and that Image is possession. It is the reason why children are so rich.”

I have concluded that much of our unhappiness is merely living in the absence of love—we human beings fall into the trappings of too many false realities: We are always waiting to be happy. When we make our fortunes…when we graduate…when we get the right job…when we are married…we will then be happy…we will begin living the good life. We simply fool ourselves in believing that happiness belongs to something outside ourselves…like acquiring great wealth. Obviously if money (and so lots of stuff) made us happy there would be no unhappy rich people so we ask, is there really a truly happy person?

Happiness begins with how much we permit ourselves to love ourselves. I am not talking about ego-attachment or any of its qualities like self-indulgence and//or self-aggrandizing but love in all its endowments—the gifts of tolerance, forgiveness, understanding, generosity and kindness. Until we can “gift” ourselves with these loving qualities we cannot truly give them to anyone else. What is important to grasp here is that we can only love the world to the extent that we love ourselves.

In light of the above, a major reason why a lot of people are never as happy as they would like to be is because they are not as loving as they would like to be. The problem is that they have, at least in metaphor, kept their hearts too cluttered with unloving realities. They hold on to old hurts, old angers, old regrets and so forth. While they may believe that they are abundant lovers of others they know secretly that they find it difficult to (really) love at all.

I realize what a strong statement I’ve just made is but I will remind you that we cannot give what we do not have.

To be able to love others is first to grant ourselves those gifts of love—to be tolerant of ourselves since, as the saying goes, no one is perfect…to be forgiving of ourselves since everyone has their story and have made their mistakes…to be understanding of the self as everyone has their faults and frailties…to be generous with the self and do what makes the self glad…and finally to be kind to the self because kindness heals all the wounds of the heart.

While we have all heard that we should treat others as we ourselves would be treated, we need to treat ourselves as we would treat others. It is only when we learn to love ourselves unconditionally that we will be able to truly love others and so to love the

The operative word in the above paragraph is “unconditionally” as love based on conditions is never actual love but rather is affection, admiration, amorous or some other attachment but not love in all its transcendence.

In view of all this learning to love ourselves liberates us to love the entire universe so to live a loving life. When we live a loving life unhappiness simply goes away.