Happiness blooms and happiness withers like the trees in spring and fall. The lone tree in a field blooms just as beautifully as the trees in the forest. The lone tree may bloom happiness in a field surrounded by grass, but the trees in the forest bloom in marvelous different colors, showing how beautiful life can be when many bloom together.
In my previous post, What Is Happiness?, I shared that happiness grows like flowers from the feelings of content symbolizing content as trees. With this in mind, I also shared my belief that when we think positive, positivity will come. In line with the famous law of attraction – when we attract positivity, we welcome it into our lives. Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh has also expressed Happiness as seeds in his book, Anger, on pg. 106.
Outside of the Law of Attraction and Thich Nhat Hanh, the similes and metaphors of happiness or content or joy with planting and gardening is also mentioned from different faiths and religions of the world. For example,
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” Bible, Psalms 1:1-3
“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.” Bible, Psalms 126:5
“And give good tidings to those who believe and perform righteous deeds that theirs shall be Gardens underneath which rivers run; whenever they are with fruits therefrom, they shall say, ‘This is the provision we received before’; and they were given a likeness of it” Islam Quran 2:25
“When it rains, there is happiness. Water is the key to all life. When it rains, the corn grows, and the sugar cane, and the cotton, which provides clothing for all. When it rains, the cows always have grass to graze upon, and housewives can churn the milk into butter.” Sikhism, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, pg. 150
“Behold, my brothers, the spring has come; the Earth has received the embraces of the sun and we shall soon see the results of that love! Every seed has awakened and so has all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being; and we, therefore, yield to our neighbors, even our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land.” Sitting Bull, Lakota
Using happiness and content as metaphors with a garden and harvesting has more powerful insights than giving us, individually, a picture of what happiness can be associated with. Joining happiness and content with the perception of growing it like a plant in a field symbolizes also living mutually with the Earth and also the opportunity to sharing the harvest of our happiness with others. Happiness may start with one person, but just as the cotton grows in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, so to does this happiness: to be provided for all.
Pollen can travel many miles, slightly touching everything in its path to a final destination. The pollen then can grow in other areas in the world. When happiness blossoms in our hearts from the trees of content, so to does it spread pollen to other gardens of the heart in other people.
In the same book on Anger, Thich Nhat Hanh also described sharing happiness with others in a way to dissolve anger. Similarly, in the above quotes from various faiths and religions of the world, the idea of harvesting, gathering fruits, seeds awakening all share a common theme: harvesting is to be shared with others.
When a farmer harvests corn in Nebraska, they first enjoy the harvest themselves, then share it with the community then share it with the nation. Similarly, when we harvest happiness from the garden of our hearts, we first enjoy the moment of happiness, then share it with our families then share it with the world around us.
Interestingly enough, a recent study from 2013 have also concluded that sharing happiness is highly beneficial not just for one person, but for the community and world around them as well. “[People] who shared their positive event reported higher positive affect than those who simply wrote about their positive event.” (Lambert, N.M., et. al., 2013, pg. 38). Along with empirical studies supporting sharing happiness, many faiths and religions of the world too, have shared this same practice is important – just like prayer.
Sadly; however, the World Happiness Report in 2019 has shown a great decrease in overall happiness in the United States. As the report suggests, “This decline in happiness and mental health seems paradoxical. By most accounts, Americans should be happier now than ever. The violent crime rate is low, as is the unemployment rate. Income per capita has steadily grown over the last few decades. This is the Easterlin paradox: As the standard of living improves, so should happiness – but it has not.”
In line with this, the American Psychology Association has also advised that a 2018 Cigna Report confirmed loneliness levels have reached all time highs – calling it the loneliness epidemic. This leads to wonder the following: if religious texts thousands of years old and recent psychological studies have advised sharing personal happiness, why is loneliness at an all time high? Loneliness and social isolation lead to depression and worse health ailments.
The Weeds of Sorrow and Anger, as discussed in my previous posts, may have grown to extraordinary levels today in many gardens of the heart not only in the United States, but around the world. How can we allow the flowers of our happiness to be shared with others in this heightened level of isolation?
Technology and Happiness
Before we share happiness, we must grow happiness within ourselves first, weed out the sorrow in our hearts, work with our anger, overcome and manage our fears. In one of my earlier posts, The Balance Starts with You, I shared that a forest may start with one tree, but that one tree plants roots so other forms of life can grow around it. As more life grows, so too does the tree’s way of life. In today’s world, we are experiencing more isolation than ever before to the point where growing happiness may actually be more inhibited than allowed.
How can we change this? How can we share the harvest of happiness we can grow in each other?
Many faiths and religions of the world have expressed many different ways along with psychology to share happiness. Some have taken to blogging, vlogging, sharing their stories on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and what have you. Some others go to the dog park to interact with other dog owners and share laughs when one dog is chased by another then play tug of war with a stick. Some have taken to bible study, joining religious groups for like minded people, walk in the park, and what have you.
In today’s highly technological world, as if we are living in a digital labyrinth, I have seen many posts on social media to share happiness and laughter; however, when I see the people who made these posts in person, sorrow is written all over their face. No matter how many funny videos are on Facebook for the split second it appears on a feed, how truly happy does this video make us feel?
Sadly, one of the prices of our technological advancements in today’s world is general happiness. Though technology has brought many different and new ways of living, sharing happiness just on social media does not truly provide us the real sense of happiness humanity, and the world needs.
Sharing happiness is beyond sharing the most recent happy memory on Facebook or any social media. Sharing Happiness is beyond going to the dog park for an hour, then go back to work and continue the same cycle of working for the sake of paying debts.
Sharing happiness is like sharing food with your family, friends, and loved ones – in person. A seed of content and a flower of happiness only grows and spreads in interaction with other life around them. Just as how a Peace Lilly on the kitchen table grows more with positive words and a gentle touch of love, so too does content and happiness.
With many faiths and religions of the world, along with modern day psychological studies, have shared the importance of sharing joy and happiness like a harvest ready to be consumed, sharing this grows beyond our dependence on technology. How true is a hug from a text message versus a hug in person?
With loneliness levels at all time highs along with a decrease in overall happiness while seeing we have a dependence on technology to facilitate joy and happiness with others, in the words of the Easterlin Paradox, no matter how rich we become with technology humanity can never replace how we share happiness with others. A real hug from a mother, a father, a friend, a sister, a brother, is more valuable than the latest Iphone to send the hug emoji.
While we are in quarantine, with loneliness and happiness decrease seen in the 2018 and 2019 studies mentioned earlier, we may now see heightened loneliness and more decreased happiness. While Telemedicine and other forms of technological communication are providing lifelines for isolation during the Coronavirus lockdown, as noted in a recent report by Yellowlees Douglass and a 2019 study on similar benefits of telemedicine to provide a form of connection with doctors and patients, when we look at the happiness level and the loneliness level in conjunction to this, I am still not convinced that technology can ever replace sharing happiness in person.
In or out of a lockdown and quarantine, technology has provided benefits in coping with isolation and distance by sharing happiness, but it may be at a point where we are dependant on technology for growing and sharing happiness. Happiness, in my view, grows more with others when it is shared in person. A warm hug grows more happiness than an emoji. A walk in the park is more enjoyable with friends and family to accompany you. Just as dogs and wolves need interaction with other dogs and wolves in person for play and happiness, so to do humans.
I pray with God/The Higher Power that, no matter what your faith is and what your current situation is now, that once the lockdown is over we all can share happiness and see our families and friends in person with a sigh of relief and say, “We made it through.” Perhaps enjoy a game of Cards Against Humanity, walk in the park, or play ball. We are all human and, as humans, we all have the right to share the harvest of happiness and see this happiness/content grow into a large forest of joy.
Be well and be safe & healthy.