Dear Copthorne Macdonald,
Throughout this book, I have had mixed emotions while reading your words of wisdom. For the most part, I found myself agreeing with points you made, even if I have yet to experience or relate to what you were elaborating on. The chapter entitled "Real Happiness" stuck out to me the most, and was the most thought-provoking chapter.
Having been able to relate to some of your aspects of Effective Living, such as not over-planning or over-packing, I find myself agreeing the most on what it means to find real happiness, and what it means to actually be happy. Dr. Nordstrom prompted our class the first week of the semester to think about what it really is that makes us happy, and what it means to live a good life. Throughout the process of writing and reading my essays aloud all semester, I have found several different things that make me temporarily happy, but I have had a hard time figuring out what it actually is that brings me real happiness. My thoughts and emotions towards this question have varied greatly. I started off by thinking that the love for my family and friends was what truly made me happy, but as my years at college have progressed, I also realized that as I become independent from my parents financial support, happiness will be a result of the money I will earn over the duration of my career. But then, I see friends, family and strangers around me getting sick, and I think that being a healthy, young adult is what makes me happy. As I've transitioned from high school to college, from New Hampshire to Florida, I realized that I couldn't really pinpoint one thing or two things that truly make me happy.
Before reading your chapter "Real Happiness," I thought I might never be able to define "happiness." I think that my happiness roots from knowing that I am not unhappy. I completely agree when you say, "there is no need to seek happiness, happiness simply is when mental reactivity is not. Thus, the task is not to become happy; it is to stop making ourselves unhappy (103)." When I don't think about being happy, my mind is usually at its most peaceful state. If I have to sit down and ponder why I am so unhappy, I know that my mind is not in the right place. I guess the easiest way to sum up the definition of my "real happiness" is when I act on impulse, when I do what I want to do without worrying what others will think of me, or if what I am doing is going to make me feel regret or upset afterwards. When I don't have to stop for a second and think about how I am feeling, acting without a care in the world, without fear of how I am going to feel after I make certain decisions. Being able to live my life on the edge, without regret, being completely fearless of what may happen down the road, knowing that I can overcome any obstacles thrown my way, is what brings me pure bliss.
April 14, 2010
Thanks so much for writing and sharing your thoughts and feelings about happiness. Feelings of sympathetic joy are welling up within me as I sense the feeling of empowerment you are experiencing as you take control of your life. "Being able to live my life on the edge, without regret, being completely fearless of what may happen down the road, knowing that I can overcome any obstacles thrown my way, is what brings me pure bliss." YES!
As I mentioned to another student, the last sentence of my online bio is:
If any dictum
has been central to Cop's life, it has been Goethe's
Enjoy that great and special life that lies ahead,