Everyone, without exception, is searching for happiness.

~ Blaise Pascal ~

Happiness in the Face of Stupidity

December 15th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 24 secs

What! you want happiness? We don't do that.

How on Earth can you be happy when people hurt you?

Though happiness can whipsaw wildly as our mood state fluctuates, mindful happiness has its roots firm in the foundations of what we believe. It has a strength to it. Yet even mindful happiness takes a hit from the hands of stupidity.

Take the last time you were treated unjustly because someone couldn’t make a sensible decision and retreated into bureaucratic resistance. People lacking ability go there as a default setting because it makes them feel safe. In turn, they lock you out, perhaps saddling with a ridiculous fine, fee, or some other injustice.

Dealing with small-mindedness wherever it appears is incredibly challenging, isn’t it? When you recognise the idiocy of some decision-making, it’s hard to keep a calm exterior.  Your happiness is liable to flit out the window and drift off into the distance as your automatic fight or flight response kicks in. Instead, you get left feeling flushed, flustered, and out of sorts.

Sometimes you can get over this with a bit of soothing self-talk. At others, no amount of self-reasoning will touch the sides of your emotional gutful. You want to rage with indignation and perhaps demonstrate all sorts of antisocial behaviour. It’s how people act, and to some extent, it’s our natural reaction. Yet it also robs our happiness.

When people hurt you, deliberately or out of sheer stupidity and legalism, it’s as if they are flicking matches at our volatility. Fuelled as we are with so many musts and oughts, it only takes a determined fool to find our points of reaction. Then “Boom!” We ignite with outrage.

In every instance, your happiness is the first casualty. The greater the pressure you are under, the worse it is. So if you experience serious loss in the process, you have a double whammy. You are also left to deal with the impact of grief. To even mention happiness in this state seems ridiculous. Yet, mindfulness doesn’t necessarily mean total self-control. Instead, it gives us a way of processing our behaviour and ultimately finding forgiveness.

Why should we look for ways to forgive the hostility and stupidity of others? Often moral and religious reasons come to mind and you certainly could argue that. But, I have another aim. Forgiveness releases us from rehearsing our pain and lets us get on with life. As a byproduct, you get to enjoy the contentment of more happiness again.

Does that mean you have to grit your teeth, take bad treatment, and then immediately say “It’s okay. I forgive you”? That seems like a saintly thing to do. But for mere mortals it helps to realise that forgiveness comes with time. When you process your emotional reactions and understand that repaying evil for evil, or stupidity with resentment, things brighten. Realising that anger and vengeful thoughts only guarantee things will get worse for you lets you change tack.

Revenge may bring a perverse kind of pleasure but never true happiness. Harming others for release may feel fine at the time. But mindfulness reveals that gratification from causing harm robs us of our dignity.  Making yet more misery on top of what has been caused already just doesn’t make sense.

Really, forgiveness is not for the perpetrator. It is for you. When you reach it, you will be rewarded. Best of all, you’ll get your happiness back. Only, this time, it comes with an extra wealth of wisdom.


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