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It's become fashionable in this Oprahist age to say that it is. For example, in this book http://tinyurl.com/2722uag here's the fifth rule: "Today I will choose to be happy." What do you think? Can it be this simple? Or, as I suspect, is this a bunch of nonsense?
I think its that easy. Every day I wake up and choose to be happy. You cant control the situation, only your reaction to it. So if I choose to only focus on the positive in my life, im choosing to always be happy.
I was at a retreat once, and was studying a lot of Carmelite writings.  The question that popped up for me was, "What makes a saint?"  IMHO, a saint is someone who has unyielding hope in the face of seemingly hopeless circumstance (this explains, for me, why a lot of people currently believe the saints must have been mad: that type of hope or belief is unfathomable in a time when despair and cynicism reign supreme). 

That being said, the modern fixation on "happiness" is misplaced, because happiness if a very transient emotion; peoples' understanding of "spirituality" is about chasing transient emotions and new ideas (ie: Oprah).  We get happy when we open gifts, or see someone we haven't seen in a long time -- it's not a state that we're meant to stay in.  Rather, saints seem to achieve either a degree of contentment or acceptance that is stable.  They choose actions that lead to that state of hope and acceptance, particularly the avoidance of sin and continual conversion, so I guess in that sense it's a choice.

On the other hand, I don't want to be too condemnatory of spiritual seekers or Oprah.  I imagine that for God their/our curiosity and emptiness are very useful indeed...
Everybody's different, but for most people I think this is a partial truth.  I've suffered perennial depression since I was about 10, but I try to be as positive as I can be.  I don't think the circumstances in my life nor in society will allow me to be happy in the foreseeable future, but being positive sure beats the heck out of wallowing in the misery.

People often like to attribute depression to an attitude deficiency or chemical imbalance, while the circumstances of our life are seldom taken into account.  Having an attitude that's so positive it overcomes all adversity is possible for some people, I believe, but not realistic for most of us.
Happiness is a pretty ephemeral emotion.

To be honest I prefer feeling at peace than happy. I guess I'm happiest when I'm at peace?
http://www.sensustraditionis.org/webaudi...piness.mp3

Happiness versus pleasure, given by an FSSP priest. Says it all.

We cannot always be happy in the inferior part of our souls, but if we will what God wills at all times, we will always be at peace, something which the world does not know
(10-31-2010, 06:09 AM)karyn_anne Wrote: [ -> ]http://www.sensustraditionis.org/webaudi...piness.mp3

Happiness versus pleasure, given by an FSSP priest. Says it all.

We cannot always be happy in the inferior part of our souls, but if we will what God wills at all times, we will always be at peace, something which the world does not know

Definitely. I go to parties with my friends and all but some of my "happiest" times are spent sitting alone at the back of a church during Mass. Watching as God humbles himself to join Hhimself to us in the form of bread really makes everything else, problems or pleasures, seem trivial.
There seem to be limits to having a positive mindset.  Having seen a lot of poverty in my travels, in wouldn't be rational to assume that people suffering or who are the victims of violence should be in a state of contentment -- unless they have achieved something like sainthood. 

I think one of the reasons that modern society is repulsed by Catholicism is the frank acceptance of suffering; conversely, even though one of the central ideas of Buddhism is that, "Life is suffering," people are more receptive to that philosophy.

Suffering in Catholicism seems to be about accepting the natural course of human life -- suffering is a significant part of it.  Also, it doesn't even have to be sought, which is another misconception of Catholicism: with most of the world being poor, at war, or even spiritually empty as in the West, suffering comes for all of us.  Heck, for billionaires who have never suffered, they will have to eventually confront death, the contemplation of which leads to suffering.

In light of that, IMHO depression is a natural response to many circumstances.  I think people want to treat it as a "disease" because the social supports and cultural practices that helped people accept a depressed reaction no longer exist, and people don't want to have faith in anything outside of the human intellect.  For instance, for my grandparents, people accepted that when people died there would be a time of bereavement, and accepted visible acknowledgment of loss (black ribbons, etc).  People seemed to accept and support the fact that after serious tragedies or bad circumstances people would not be able to function as before.

I do remember when I last visited Haiti as a small child, for example, that we went to visit a family member simply because she was poor, and to offer her consolation and help. Families visited one another just because someone had taken ill, or was depressed, or had a problem child, or couldn't find work --and they sent other people and religious to those same people.  People tend not to do those things, anymore.
[...]

Another memory I have is of my cousin's wedding at a major Church, in Haiti.  They spent a great deal, but when we got to the Church there was a very poor, homeless woman sitting in a front pew wailing.  She was obviously extremely hungry and dirty, and just begging God in her misery.  But no one asked her to leave or in any way reproached her -- the understanding was that she was suffering, and that she probably belonged in a church more than we did, so she wept through the whole Mass.  I never forgot that and felt so sorry and wished I could help her (I think she was given some money by family)...

(10-30-2010, 11:30 PM)paragon Wrote: [ -> ]Everybody's different, but for most people I think this is a partial truth.  I've suffered perennial depression since I was about 10, but I try to be as positive as I can be.  I don't think the circumstances in my life nor in society will allow me to be happy in the foreseeable future, but being positive sure beats the heck out of wallowing in the misery.

People often like to attribute depression to an attitude deficiency or chemical imbalance, while the circumstances of our life are seldom taken into account.  Having an attitude that's so positive it overcomes all adversity is possible for some people, I believe, but not realistic for most of us.
I don't know.  But two people smarter than I said:

Our life is what our thoughts make it. - Marcus Aurelius

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. - Abraham Lincoln
(10-31-2010, 01:21 PM)DesperatelySeeking Wrote: [ -> ]I don't know.  But two people smarter than I said:

Our life is what our thoughts make it. - Marcus Aurelius

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. - Abraham Lincoln

See, those are exactly the kinds of statements I'm inclined to dismiss by saying, "Anyone who speaks this way simply doesn't know suffering." Yet these two men suffered a great deal. Who can explain it?
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