Happiness is not really what we seek. It is peace. The USA's "pursuit of happiness" as an end tenant might help one declare one's inalienable rights, but 'peace', inner peace, might more readily lead a constitutional adherent to wisdom. Happiness, after all, is so fleeting. And peace, within All, is independent of circumstance. Inner and residing peace (where one is integrative and accepting of all) can obviate emotional reaction, promote rational response. But let me not admit to attaining ‘the product’; glimpses are like shafts of light feeding a forest, and the journey is such that "these woods are dark and deep, and I have miles to go, and promises to keep."
Promises are words yet to make real. "He or she is full of promise," one might say, offhandedly, as though seeing something in the other as yet unleavened, unrealized, unfulfilled. (We are easily presumptions about others, if not of ourselves.) But to make a reality out of "I promise" is to establish one's reputation, one's honour, one's commitments. And how many promises have I not broken en route to here? You?
Broken promises. Yes, guilt, that enervating and debilitating emotion, can deprive one of the
light of peace. But to be accepting that the choices and actions of the past have led to this very moment, yet that one ‘would have’ done better if one were that much more mature, or more insightful, or more experienced, or less afraid, reactionary, impulsive, or more educated, more aware, more supported, more-better-er altogether, then one would have... Now, where was this all leading? Ah yes, to be at peace with whatever IS. Silly me! Idiot! (Shame, leave me now.)
Shame-based living is at the root of most things debilitating. It unnerves and makes insecure and robs confidence. It minimizes and castrates and calumniates. It trips up and hurts. It takes the subconscious back to an unwanted childhood and resonates with spite and villainy and greed and feelings of disgust, hate, envy, and laziness too. It judges and blames and seeks to excuse itself and makes a victim of 'me'. Yet shame drives one to be more than human too. When will I ever be good enough, do enough, achieve enough, have enough? When will I be loved and cared for, for just being 'me'? (Hey! Guests are coming, the house must be spotless!)
Authenticity and being real are hard won qualities if not nurtured by one's parents. Being too harshly criticized or beaten or vilified or traduced as a child results in learning to cover up or smooth over or outright lie. Untoward consequences are not worth honesty. Integrity and truth and even ethics dissipate in the face of another's anger, disapproval, disappointment. The psyche is too fragile to accommodate the moment, seeks to sublimate misdeed into the fault of circumstance, or another, but can hardly own up for the self. To be entirely true to oneself, let alone to another takes the practice of knowing that one is 'everything', and that all of oneself is every bit as human as the next person; it is the conscious exercise of preference and habits of caring and compassion and empathy and even morality that defines oneself in each moment, if not as a whole. But all around, evidently, there are "lesser and greater persons than the self."
Trouble is, other persons see oneself in a given moment. And if that moment is physically ugly, or socially unacceptable, or down-there embarrassing, or far too experimental, or in a lapse of judgement, or.... If one is not in the right mind at a given hour or for a day, peace seems far from obtainable. Peace comes in pieces. It certainly is not about complacency. Peace slides at us, even arrests us (albeit momentarily) in the light that filters through the forest of our contentions and meanings and doings and efforts and actions and achievements and thoughts too. Yet it is the pursuit of happiness that drives us. Still, when we feel peace with whatever our momentary circumstances we feel connected to the sense of being a part of the universe, indeed. Even in pain. For what part of everything does not belong? Now then, have a piece of peace to share?