I was given a Calendar of quotes called “Chinese Wisdom 365 – A thoughtful quote for every day – from the wisest thinkers.”
January 17th reads “So if loss of what gives you happiness causes you distress when it fades, you can now understand that such happiness is worthless. It is said, those who lose themselves in their desire for things also lose their innate nature.” by Chaung Tzu
I read this a few times, both agreeing and disagreeing with it. I read it a few more times, trying to discern the message within this quote. Now I think I get it. If you break it down into smaller parts it does make sense.
So if there is something in your life that makes you happy, and if you lose it, and it causes you distress, then your happiness was worthless. This is okay if you are talking about inanimate objects. However when it comes to a person that you love, if you lose a loved one, and they made you happy, whether it’s a lover / boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife or a child, then this quote becomes a bit harder to take, I think. What do other people think?
If you love your wife or husband and they make you happy, then if you lose them, I don’t think that your happiness when you were together is or was worthless.
If we are discussing inanimate objects, like the new iPad or new Samsung phone you’ve just bought, and if you lose the object or drop it or it gets run over or stolen, and you feel unhappy about the object being lost or broken or stolen, then maybe you could say that your happiness was worthless. I think the word worthless is what I cannot swallow. Maybe your happiness at having a new thing, a new object, is but a fleeting happiness. When the novelty of the object fades away, you will move on to having another favourite object. Maybe this quote is more to do with our society being very materialistic.
We just have to have the latest and the greatest. As a society, people are very materialistic and want to have the best, the latest, the most amazing, gadgets. And then we upgrade the gadgets so that our latest gadget is current. If I lose a phone or break it, which I have done numerous times, broken them, I get angry that it is damaged. I wouldn’t say that this device is linked directly to my happiness. I might feel frustrated or angry that I cannot make phone calls, or that I have lost all my contacts. I rely on other things to make me happy.
What am I trying to say? My children make me feel happy. My grand children make me feel happy. I am ultimately responsible for my own happiness. Being outdoors makes me happy. Walking along the beach makes me happy. Spending time with my family and friends makes me happy. I like to spend time with friends and family. I also like getting out and about in the great outdoors. Going for a walk makes me happy. So for me, my happiness is not defined by the things that I own. It’s more about enjoying the time that I am able to spend with friends, and family and the time that I can get outside and spend time at the beach or in the bush.
I like my job and I enjoy the work that I do. It is hard work and I am glad when my day has finished and I can go home and relax. My job doesn’t make me happy because I would much rather be at home, pottering around in my garden. This doesn’t pay the bills so I go to work, to pay my bills, to earn money to live, to buy food, for the necessities in life. And also so that I can save up money to go on holidays. My job doesn’t make me happy, while I am at work, because it is such hard work. I do get joy from the people I work with, my fellow work mates and the clients that I work with. I think that I would be much happier if I had a rich husband who looked after me financially so I could stay at home and play in the garden. NOT! I like being independent and supporting myself and it is very good for my self esteem to know that I am not relying on anybody else to pay my way in life.
The 2nd part of the quote reads “It is said, those who lose themselves in their desire for things also lose their innate nature.” I think this part of the quote does make sense. And I believe that I may have touched on this part of the quote above. It’s a bit like trying to be better than the Jones. If Mr Jones buys a gold statue and sets it up on his front lawn, then in order to compete and have a higher stature (not statue, sorry for the pun) than him, we would have to go and buy a bigger gold statue and set it up in our front yard. Do people aspire to be better than Mr Jones? I think a lot of people do. I buy things to make my life better or easier, such as a new heater or air conditioner. This has nothing to do with a desire to be better than my neighbours.
Wow that quote has really taken on a life of its own. If I look at the quote again, for me personally, I feel that it is saying that “if you adore the golden statue and it turns to copper, and you feel unhappy because your beautiful gold statue was a fake, then you must be a very shallow person to love and adore this statue. The statue did not make you happy nor will it ever make you happy if you rely on an object to make you happy.
On the other hand if you lose someone who makes you happy, then this pain of loss is a lot different than the pain of losing an object. And if you love things in life and get rapt up in your desire for bigger and better, and trying to be better than the Jones’s, then you will probably never truly find real happiness.
Happiness lies within you. It cannot be bought by shiny toys. It cannot be paid for. For a person to achieve true happiness, I think you need to learn to love yourself and you need to be happy with what you have, make the best of the skills and experiences that you have had, and live your life to the fullest, trying to be a good person.
I would like to hear what other people think about this quote and what it means to them. Do you think that I have got close to the mark, analysing this quote?