Category Archives: Banaba

Something to Ponder – 11

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Donnie Mershon of Beaufort, South Carolina.

“Dear Banaba,” Donnie writes. “I don’t think people like me. In fact, I think some people may hate me.”

To my new friend Donnie, I say simply, “After the overwhelming mountain of questions, I’m not sure I like you either!”

But that is me having a delicate joke at your expense. Apologies. Clearly, you asked no question at all, but I think I know what you may be looking for just the same.

Consider first that the human species is a complex and emotional animal. The simple determining factors of like and dislike are the root logic we use for virtually every decision we make.

Now consider that every person on the planet is wired with a unique mindset, a unique moral code, a unique capacity for understanding, learning, forgiveness, anger, mistrust and so on. And while clusters of us may have thoughts and feelings that are similar to other’s, what we bring to that commonality is less about how much we may be the same and more about what we need in our lives and what we are willing to do to get it so that we may better self-actualize. In other words, it is a reflection of how willing we are to reach out, tolerate, empathize, understand, forgive, give and more, according to what we need, to make our relationships work.

Clearly, not all of us are destined to get along, but not feeling liked, or feeling hated is a different dynamic than not getting along. Basically, humans have two emotional pathways that help guide our decisions and ultimately, our lives.

Our passive emotional pathway allows us to make effective like/dislike decisions with great efficiency and with little residual refection or consideration. Some refer to these as “no-brainers”. I dislike the cold, so I wear a coat. I like ice cream so I will eat it. I dislike dark alleyways because I feel they may be unsafe so I will avoid them. It is quite efficient until something disrupts our pathway and presents us with new factors to consider.

That is when our active emotional pathway kicks in. This allows us to further consider the circumstances we find ourselves in so that we might try and respond effectively, in our time and space at that moment, to resolve the conflict. It is an aggressive and reactive pathway which often creates new actions and counteractions that we must respond to that often fall well beyond the initial issue and often with assumed facts or notions of what we may believe to be true. I dislike the cold, so I wear a coat. But, my coat is not warm enough, so I need to buy a warmer coat. Even more so, I’m sick the cold and I should move to a warmer place. San Diego is warmer I bet. I should just move to San Diego. I’ll be happier there. And so on.

Despite our individuality and each person’s unique perspective. I like to think that we are all generally predisposed to liking something, in this case, people, over disliking it – or them. At a minimum, we should be able to ignore others without the least bit of disruption to our lives. We do this every day. If you do not know anyone in Billings, Montana, you are not likely to care much about them, even though they exist. I feel it is doubtful that you would hate them.

But, to not like, or to hate is an active, aggressive and emotional decision we make based on some level of bias that falls outside our level of tolerance or willingness to make the needed adjustments to turn the dislike into something more positive.

It takes energy, and there is a cost to our emotional currency to hate. And while it is frequently abused or at a minimum, misplaced, it is still a useful and sometimes necessary emotion because it defines for us the farthest boundary of our willingness to bend. I like ice cream, but I hate pistachio ice cream, therefore I will eat many, many ice cream flavors before I even consider eating pistachio.

Finally, know that hate comes with the weight of what it is. When someone hates, they carry the burden of that emotion with them. Even if they feel they deserve to hate. Perhaps they feel they have been wronged in some way or something dear has been taken from them. They feed it regularly. Small things can churn into rage which only serves to reinforce the hate. They cannot move beyond it, or resolve it so it festers as hate is prone to do.

So, what comes from this all analysis you ask? Well, people may dislike you. They may even hate you. It is also entirely possible that people don’t hate you but, they experience a level of frustration while interacting with you that they find upsetting enough for them to react the way they do to you, which you may define as hate. We are bad communicators to begin with. We are worse when feelings like hate are involved.

Your job is to understand what role you play in this particular circumstance. Ask the hard questions, but be willing to answer honestly. Are you kind? Are you rude? Are you understanding? Are you hateful yourself? Do you strive to hurt others? And so on.

Nobody is perfect. We all deserve the benefit of the doubt from others if we can honestly say that our general objective is to be the best people we can be. I’m certain the people whom you say may hate you, would want the same considerations should the tables be turned.

Lastly, you must understand that whatever hate another carries, even if directed at you, is not your responsibility to resolve. If you have taken responsibility for your own actions to the extent of your awareness, then you have done your part. The hate of another is something he or she will have to resolve on their own. It may be that they will find no way to resolve it besides extinguishing any association they have with you. That may not be ideal, but it may also be the reality. It is sad. You will likely wonder what you could have done that was so offensive to them that they chose to cut you away like that, but that is their choice. And if they hate you for no reason at all beyond the mere fact that you exist then they have many larger problems and you are better off for the distance.

Either way, in a way, such a choice is freeing in that it allows you to focus more on the things in your life that deserve your positive energy and proper attention. Should the day come that a resolution is possible, you must decide if you are open to re-establishing that relationship. If so, you must also be willing, and able, to set the past aside and move forward fresh and new.

By the way, I like you just fine.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

Copyright © 2018 – The JEFFWORKS

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Something to Ponder – 10

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Jacques Monphree of Ely, Minnesota.

“Dear Banaba,” Jacques writes. “Why is everyone always telling me how to live my life? Am I wrong just because I don’t do what they would do, when they would do it, or how they would do it?”

To my new friend Jacques, I say simply, “You figure it out!”

But of course, that is me making very light of your question, of which I mean no harm or disrespect.

Your question is asked easily enough, but the answer can be very complex. I’m going to guess first that your saying “everyone” is an exaggeration. Of course, not everyone would be telling you how to live. You don’t know everyone and most everyone could probably care less about how you live as long as you are not hurting yourself or others…or annoying them…at a minimum.

From there I can guess that the people who feel more free about commenting on the path of your existence are those whom you have a fairly common association with, primarily friends and family and perhaps to a lesser extent, friends of friends, as they say on the Internet.

With the commentators identified, we can begin to explore the motivations behind why they do what they do. I imagine there are about three overall personalities that motivate another to make a conscious decision to address the state of your existence. There are likely others, I’m sure, but we can probably roll most things up into these three.

  1. As Teacher
    As a person travels along their path, they build a collection of life experiences which can ultimately lead to a place of wisdom, knowledge and enlightenment…if they do it right. Many of us seek out these people out to try and reap the benefit of their experiences so that our own path becomes easier. They are perceived as having wisdom and are usually open to sharing. However, the good teacher is not going to tell you what you should do or how you are doing things wrong.Because they are aware that life experience and knowledge is unique to the individual and the life they lead, the good teacher provides you with the knowledge and guidance you need to learn your life lessons for yourself, as they apply to your own existence, or you would learn nothing. It would be silly for them to tell you what they did in their lives with the belief that such information will resolve issues for you.
  2. As Protector
    An extension of one who acts like a teacher is one who plays the role of protector. These people may also be reacting to your situation based on the biases and understanding of their own life experience, though less to the point of having you learn and more to the point of directly pointing out the pitfalls they experienced – or are aware of – so that you might avoid them.Because they care for you, or believe they care for you, they are willing to share with you the cautions you should heed to live a safe, healthy and productive life. Yes, some of these are obvious. If the weather is treacherous and it is clear that you should wear the right clothes outside and you must travel with extra caution, you can expect a reminder from a protector who feels they have your best interests at heart.
  3. As Meddler
    The act of being a teacher or protector in someone else’s life is a lofty and positive thing. It can create a sense of pride and accomplishment to know one can help another and generally, you want those people in your life.However, despite best intentions, some people lack the necessary qualities to fill the shoes of the more lofty roles and instead, play the part of the meddler. They will say their intent is to teach or protect, and they may often believe that to be fact. But, the way they comment, the things they say and how they say them reflect a different reality. There is a universal theory that people of today seem to have forgotten and that is, some things are better left unsaid. The meddler says them anyway. The meddler response is less about you or helping you and more about the motivations of the meddler him or herself. It could be that your actions upset them, or the things you do and say are dramatically disconnected from what they feel to be correct and true. They could try to understand, but instead, they are compelled to comment to bring things back into alignment for them.

Remember though, traits are traits, not people. You may find a good teacher or a solid protector in your life just as easily as you could find someone who is all teacher, protector and meddler wrapped in one.

When the people in our lives feel compelled to comment on what we do, we hope that they would do so from a place of understanding, empathy, grace, discretion and support. We hope that they might ask questions about what we are doing and how we are feeling over making a quick emotional, judgement about what they see and boldly preparing a response to initiate action. To nurture rather than needle. To respond in such a way is endlessly shortsighted, counterproductive and prone to creating valleys over building bridges.

And when you receive this “help”, how you respond, if you respond, should be just as conscious a decision. When someone reaches out to you for whatever reason, you can react quickly and emotionally based on what you see and feel in the moment, you could easily toss it aside, or you could consider the spirit in which you believe the help was delivered.

If you are an adult, you are in charge of your own world. Many people will have comments about the things you do, but comments are not directives or laws, they are merely something to consider. Once considered, you make your choices and boldly step forward knowing that for you, in your pool of circumstances, you are doing the right things and living the life you want to live. If you feel bad about that, then you are worrying less about what’s right for you and more about how those who comment will further react to your decisions.

The long and the short of that is, it is none of their business.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

Copyright © 2018 – The JEFFWORKS

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Something to Ponder – 9

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Rex Carson of Brattleboro, Vermont.

“Dear Banaba,” Rex writes. “Why aren’t people more charitable?”

To my new friend Rex, I ask, “Rex, what do you need now?”

But again, that is me being playful. As I see it, the more serious response to the question has three parts. People may be seen as being less than charitable because:

  1. Charity is inconvenient
  2. Charity requires that we give something of ourselves
  3. We have a tendency to judge one’s need to see if they are worthy of our effort

Many people are charitable at heart, but people are busy, and even with the best of intentions, moving the notion of being charitable into action takes purposeful intent. Charitable groups or people in need of charity can be quite good about asking for help and letting you know that they exist as an entity, and the need for your help is real, but if you are not in the place, either in your mind or in your personal situation, where it is easy to give – also called a “no brainer” – one is not likely to do so.

Also, most people believe they work hard to support the lives they have. If they are inspired to help others, they do so because they can, and they want to feel good about themselves for doing it. So, while the act of charity helps those in need, it also gives those who help an emotional boost. People need something in return for their work, even if it is just a good feeling, otherwise they would not do it.

There are many forms of charity, financial, physical, emotional and no matter the form, the act of charity requires a willingness and a capability on the part of the giver to provide support to others. Only the giver can define those thresholds. They will give what is comfortable for them.

It is easy to donate clothes that you do not wear, tools that you do not use, or similar items because you are already detached from them and the cost to you is low.

The donation of time in the service of others is more difficult because we are already time strapped. How much time can one spare? Is it enough time to do any good? Will it end up being more time than we expected to the point where it infringes on other things? Plus, the donation of time means a more integrated involvement, personally and emotionally, with the issue you are working on or the affected people, animals or whatever. So, time is a more personal investment.

Then there is money. Sometimes it is easiest to give money because the ultimate cost to you is lower than other options. You can give without being directly involved. You are not really connected to the issue beyond your financial support. You won’t get your hands dirty because your donation combined with others allows other people to do the work. On the other hand, money may be very difficult for you to give because of your personal situation even though sometimes money is what is needed most.

Since the act of charity is seen as a basic human trait, it is very difficult when people with a charitable heart cannot give, cannot do for the people and groups they wish to help. It is a struggle. It can also be disheartening when we give and believe that we are doing good, only to find we have been duped and our time, energy and resources have gone to places less worthy than our intentions. It happens often enough and on a grand enough scale that some will take great caution before considering charity.

Because we have been burned, or we know someone who has been burned in the past, we like to make sure that if we go out of our way to be charitable, the efforts are earned and deserved.

We all tend to compare others to ourselves especially when it comes to charity. We are human. We judge. We shouldn’t and I believe we often try not to, but it is a hard-wired into our brains and difficult to escape. Does that person really need that money? If I’m working, why aren’t they working? I will give only so much because they should be able to do the rest on their own. They are being lazy. They already have help from other people, how much more do they need? And on and on and on.

The problem with being so judgmental is that it can skew one’s perspective. While I encourage care and consideration, I caution against becoming so critical that it paralyzes one’s sense of humanity to the point where cynicism trumps charity, or at least the honest consideration of charity. We should be better than that. Sometimes, we are not.

There is no shortage of charitable requests that come our way. They come in our mail, they come to us electronically in email and chats and notes, we are approached as we come and go from our local Super Marts, or on street corners. Whether from strangers or from friends and family, it seems someone always wants or needs something. It can be exhausting.

When the planets align and we have determined that the time for giving is now, that we have the resources to spare and that our resources will go where needed to serve the intended purpose, we are more likely to be charitable.

So when Rex asks, why aren’t people more charitable, one might say that if we take all things into consideration, people are as charitable as we allow them to be.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

Copyright © 2018 – The JEFFWORKS

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Something to Ponder – 8

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Zach Rumsten of Arcata, California.

“Dear Banaba,” Zach writes, “Can’t we all just get along?”

To my new friend Zach, I say simply, “No.”

But of course, that is me kidding with you. If I’m being totally honest, the best answer I can give is a solid maybe.

You see, we have always had the skills and abilities to get along, and by we, I’m going to guess that Zach means all of us on this planet. But, despite our infinite skills and abilities, it seems we cannot all just get along. To take it one step further, it seems we are not all that interested in making it happen. So, it is not that we can’t. It is more likely that we don’t or won’t.

While that sounds bad, understand that the situation is not entirely hopeless, but our history shows there is little motivation within the human species to work for and achieve global harmony, so until the proper motivation comes, we sit in this tenuous middle ground.

Humans are animals. Despite the work we have done over the span of our evolution to grow beyond our base programing, what is in us exists and continues to prove difficult to overcome with any real permanence or global vision.

Humans have ongoing and eternal base needs like satisfying hunger and thirst, the need for shelter, the need for a sense of safety, the need for companionship, family, community, accomplishment, self-expression and so on.

On the plus side, humans generally have within them the ability to display compassion, understanding, fortitude, love, empathy, charity, a willingness to learn and grow, imagination, creativity, endurance and so on.

However, in direct conflict with those traits, we are also wired for greed and envy, pettiness, ignorance, ego, bigotry, fear, selfishness, laziness, a hunger for power or dominance, ruthlessness, revenge, hatred and so on.

The reason we cannot all get along is that we cannot reconcile, or adequately balance our positive traits with our negative traits while in the pursuit of satisfying our base needs.

It has been proven over and over that the world we live on, despite the lack of care we show for it, has the resources to adequately provide for the needs of its people, but the use, control and distribution of those resources is based on economy, not charity. So, while we could live in a world where everyone has what they need, instead, we live in a world where there is great disparity between us. You can get what you need, if you have the money or other resources to do so. If you do not have the resources…sad for you, your struggles will be great.

In this case, size and situation matters little. You can see that there are people in the world who have sought power and dominance over others by any means possible for selfish returns. And while those examples very clearly illustrate the negatives of the human animal, those same shortcomings are easily found throughout the chain of human existence from governments, to corporations, to smaller businesses and organizations, to towns and villages, to churches, to neighborhoods, to families, to individuals.

We serve ourselves first. We help others if we can, as we can, if we remember, as long as it does not diminish our position in anyway or is in anyway inconvenient. We adhere to our biases, we contort our religious doctrines to suit our purposes, we forget to forgive and forget. We fail to recognize that we often do ourselves what we curse others for. We ridicule what we don’t understand and we bully those who seem less than we are and so many things.

There are exceptions of course, and that is where hope lies. There are people who wish to, and work to, serve the greater good and put the needs of others before themselves, but there are not enough. And the ones we have cannot do all that needs to be done on their own. They need help.

It starts with simple questions like Zach’s. Can’t we all just get along? Perhaps. Maybe.

When you get to the point where you are ready to ask the question, you should also be at the point where you decide how you can answer the question in your own world. How do you live? What do you do to bring hope and harmony to your existence? What are you willing to change? Are you able to grow beyond who you think you are today?

Not easy questions and not the only questions, but if you have opened yourself up to a broader vision of a greater world, asking the questions is not enough.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

Copyright © 2018 – The JEFFWORKS

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Something to Ponder – 7

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Ashley Chambray of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

“Dear Banaba,” Ashley writes. “Why do people get mad at me when I’m only trying to help?”

To my new friend Ashley, I say simply, “Help is perspective, and it is subjective.”

But, I suppose that is me not being very helpful at all.

Help has been around for a long time. I have heard it said that the desire to help is part of the human condition. It’s instinctual. But as we have come to know, through conditioning, we can often override our instincts so that we act in a way that is driven more by our personal motivations and less by how we are wired.

If you feel people are reacting negatively to your help, we must explore what help you are providing, the environment in which you are providing it, and what is motivating you to act.

First, do they ask for help? That is the best indicator of whether help is needed at all.

I share with you two brief stories.

To start, there is the well-known tale of a man who came across a butterfly struggling to emerge from a cocoon. Because he could not tolerate the notion of the creature’s struggle, felt that the creature was in trouble and would be doomed without action, he decided to “help” by stepping in and releasing the creature. In this case, the creature was working through what it needed to as dictated by nature. The struggle itself is what the butterfly needed to overcome to ensure it was strong enough to survive. The butterfly was not ready to be free in that moment and the help – the man’s actions – only ensured the fate the man feared most.

In the second tale, a young woman recently moved out to be on her own, but she came back to her mother’s house regularly to bake cookies. The mother, thinking she was helping, gave the daughter a new cookie tray to bake with believing it would help make her life easier because then she would not have to make the journey back home just to bake the cookies. The daughter took the tray graciously, but it made her cry. She did not see the tray as a gift of help as much as it was a message from her mother that she did not want her to come over to bake anymore.

And, if you will indulge me, I believe another short story is in order. This time we find a teacher who is constantly telling a little boy what to do. There is nothing wrong with the boy other than he often lags behind the other children when getting things done. The teacher feels that she needs to remind him to do things so very often so as to “help” him stay on task, to “help” him keep up with the other children and to “help” keep him from getting into trouble. In his mind, the boy sees himself very much the same as all the other children, yet he feels frustrated that he is constantly singled out to do the very things he had either already done, or was on his way to doing.

So, now we wonder – who was helping who? Who really needed help? Would everything have worked out as it should without the added help?

The case of the teacher shows us that she may have pushed the boy under the guise of “help” to satisfy her own needs in the moment. The boy was capable. And aside from speed, the boy was successful. He likely did not need help. Yet, her job is to manage the class and the boy could be a hindrance – if even a small one – to her finding her own success in the way she perceived things.

If the mother was to know the real outcome of her help, that her daughter was profoundly upset by the gesture, we could guess that she would most assuredly clarify her intentions with her daughter, so the intent of her effort was effectively understood. But in the moment, the daughter was capable, she was successful, and probably did not need the help she received.

Finally, the man would have no way to communicate with the creature he encountered. He saw a situation unfolding before him and chose to act in a way that reflected the limits of his current understanding. He projected a potential danger onto the very small creature and felt compelled to do something. Was the creature in danger? Probably not. Would the creature have otherwise have been successful? Probably, short of the interference with another predator in his circle of life. Did the creature need help?

Because Ashely did not provide the specifics of what makes people mad at her when she tries to help them, we can only guess that she might be offering “help” where it is not needed or it is the kind of “help” she offers regularly, and some may say unnecessarily, to satisfy a need of her own.

Humans are generally good. They generally want to help others. But we could all benefit from understanding where help is needed most, defining what help will actually help and knowing that help is not often providing a resolution, but enough of a bridge to helping another achieve success. Most importantly, we must explore whether we are we helping those who really need it, or are we helping ourselves.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

 

Something to Ponder – 6

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely Mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Langdon Mershon of Park City, Utah.

“Dear Banaba,” Langdon writes. “What makes you feel you are qualified to comment on the human condition as you do? Where do you get off?”

To my new friend Langdon I say, “Since I am already here and I am not on anything, there is no need for me to get off of the thing I am not on.”

But, of course, that would be me kidding you.

Other people have asked me the same or similar question over the years. Those with whom I am close often consider the question, at least in its directness and perceived tone, to be rude or hostile. However, I assure them that the question is merely a question like all the others and that we should not judge Langdon’s intent by how the voice in our own head interprets the words.

That does not mean it is not rude or hostile. It may very well be, but that kind of hostility often bubbles up from the frustrations we feel when we can’t make sense of what we are experiencing. So we try to seek out a space of common understanding if both sides are willing.

When someone takes in the words of another they have two choices. They can agree and accept those words as part of their own developing knowledge base or they can disagree, discard the words as worthless and move on.

To Langdon, I am either uncannily close to his current mindset on so many issues that he is amazed at how in tune we are, or I am so far off, so often that he considers what I share to be so very incorrect that my sharing it offends his sensibilities in some way.

By asking where I might get off, I’m inclined to believe it is the latter. And if that is the case, he would probably rather that I be quiet and go away completely than to write another word.

It would be easy to do so, but he did ask the question and that implies – no matter how slim – that there is a chance to find a place of common understanding.

So to Langdon, I say, I am no more qualified to comment on the human condition than anyone else. That said, I am no less qualified to comment either.

I am a human in the human race and all that comes with it. I experience what everyone experiences. We all see things through the lenses, filters and biases that we develop as we follow our particular path. Each experience, good and bad, works to tune and hone, break, tear and rebuild those elements which ultimately affect how we see the world and how we feel we need to act to survive.

Just because we have these filters and biases, we should not feel that we are completely bound to them, that we can’t work to better understand them and that we can’t work to change them if we find them not to our liking. After all, as humans, that is how we grow.

We can follow the paths of our lives seeing the world as it is, blissfully unaware that there may be something more for us to do in it until we ask ourselves one question – why?

Once we do that, a gateway to a new universe of possibilities opens before us and it can never be shut because our new sense of awareness prevents it.

In many ways, it can be overwhelming. Change is a scary thing. What do we do with so much potential? Maybe we don’t understand what we think might be happening. So we reach out. We talk. We ask others who may have already been there what they experienced and what we might experience, and if there are any handy tips for making things work. A lot of what we do is looking for handy tips for making things work.

He may disagree, but in the sphere of his own experiences, Langdon himself probably offers insights and guidance to others more that he realizes. Even as he continues to question the broader universe that opened to him.

I cannot claim ownership to knowledge and insight. I cannot prioritize my perspective over another’s. I only do what I feel we all can do when someone reaches out to us.

Reach back.

We may not walk away from this any different from where we started, but because there was effort, there is hope.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

Something to Ponder – 5

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely Mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Terry O’Keefe of Kellogg, Idaho.

“Dear Banaba,” Terry writes. “What is happiness? Why is it so hard for us to find?”

To my new friend Terry, I say simply, “Happiness is the cloud you walk in.”

When you consider the state of the world and the plights of so many people who struggle to merely survive, it seems that happiness is the most elusive of all the feelings.

Or is it?

We are a funny species. We crave happiness. We long for it. We work very hard to define it. We are pretty certain we know when we do not have it. And yet, when we do, or we think we do, we don’t allow ourselves the luxury of enjoying it. We often squirrel it away so nobody will see it. We feel guilty when someone calls us out for having it and then strongly deny it as if there was a greater value in a common, universal misery. When we see others who may have it, we envy them and instead of celebrating with them, we question if and how and why they may be more worthy of happiness than we are. There are many vicious circles at work here and the very bit of it all is that it all resides in our brains.

I always say you are the arbiter or your existence. You own who you are. Happiness, like misery is a choice. Of course, there are forces in the world that you must deal with every day. These forces may test your commitment to your search for happiness, but only you can decide to give up the power that makes your happiness go away.

So many people scoff at this notion and look at me as if sitting on this mountain for so long has warped my sense of reality and my perspective of the human condition. To them, I say, “not that I am aware of.” Because the questions you pose Terry, are not new and for as long as we have roamed the Earth, humans have done a very poor job of recognizing and embracing their happiness.

To be happy, you must define what it is. You would do yourself a tremendous favor by defining it as something you can attain easily. Why make it harder than that?

If you define happiness as winning millions of dollars in the lottery so you can do all the things you think you deserve to do and have all the things you think you deserve to have, your definition will be quite hard to achieve. You will find happiness elusive and you will perpetuate negative energy when you find out someone else won “your” money. Will the other winner be happy with the money? Who is to say?

If you define happiness more simply, perhaps as a positive state of mind that helps you work toward overcoming the challenges of your daily life, you will find happiness faster and more bountiful. In this case, happiness could be found in a good parking space, making it inside the house before it rains, the sip of an ice cold cream soda…so many things.

So you see Terry, because you don’t really find happiness, there is a sense of futility that comes with always looking for it.

Happiness lies in wait wherever you go and wherever you are. Making that your definition is not ignoring or glossing over the daily problems of life, for that will only lead to its own frustrations. Rather, it is embracing the knowledge of things as they are, knowing what you can do to change those things as needed – if anything – and knowing when to let them go. Accepting things as you have made them, after doing your very best work or putting forth your very best effort, even if they are not perfect – are good. And good is a profound seed for happiness to grow from.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.