Those words—happiness and beauty—are vague. I am not sure if it is a direct sensation from our five senses or a hard-to-define emotion. I think it is more of a state of being, which can encompass all the things that happen in life.
When my husband buys fish, I will be happy—my inner condition fosters a genuine sense of fulfillment. People like me sometimes imagine that constant happiness will be a kind of euphoria or endless succession of pleasant experiences involving eating fish.
The older I get, the more I feel that the definition utilized in social media is more like a recipe for exhaustion than happiness. Even the most pleasurable things can become passe if you do them every hour of every day.
Some think of happiness as a way of being that gives you the resources to deal with the ups and downs of life, that pervades all the emotional states, including sadness. We think of sadness as incompatible with pleasure, but without the contrast of sadness, there can be no understanding of happiness.
According to Aristotle, happiness consists in achieving, through the course of a whole lifetime, all the goods—health, wealth, knowledge, friends—that lead to the perfection of human nature and to the enrichment of human life. This requires us to make choices, some of which may be very difficult. Altruism, inner strength and freedom, a sense of direction and meaning in life—those are not sad things. But if you do not fall in despair, it is important that you maintain that wholeness and that sense of purpose and meaning.
Margaret Wachholz is the campus marketing director at Woodbury Senior Living. In her column, she shares observations and wisdom about aging and senior living in our community. woodburyseniorliving.com