Friday, May 16, 2014

The trouble with happiness

One of my boys self-identifies as a BuMo--a Buddhist Mormon.  When I asked what took him to this place, he said that in his experience, Mormonism doesn't address the problem of suffering satisfactorily--at least for him.  And, in fact, there's a lot of pressure to BE HAPPY in our culture:  Adam fell that man might be and man is that he might have joy.  You can, of course, talk about the difference between "happiness" and "joy," but it's not likely to make you feel any better when you're suffering both physically and mentally.

Anyway.  I've been thinking about this lately, and a lot of what my son says makes sense to me.  Feeling happy is fab.  I love happy!  I love happy so much I want to marry it!  But when you don't feel happy, should you really feel guilty about that?  

Why not just make peace with your sorrows and acknowledge that yes-- they have a place at your dinner table, too.


7 comments:

Rachel said...

This is fascinating. I think there is something important to tease out about the Mormon emphasis on "being" happy without a lot of tangible techniques to practice achieving it (I'm thinking meditation). I think the default Mormon technique might be "put your shoulder to the wheel." Ha.

I'll be thinking about this for a while.

Lisa B. said...

I like that a lot. A lot. And why not take what makes sense to fill in the gaps in your received cosmology? Well done, Son of Cannons.

CSIowa said...

Mindfulness practice has been very helpful to me. Sometimes I think we Mormons get the topography of things wrong, raising striving and working out our own salvation too high while laying low the real power of the Atonement in companionship with our own acceptance of ourselves, among other things.

James said...

I don't think you should automatically feel guilty about not feeling happy. Like most things in life, it depends on the circumstances at the time. I love the Cannon boys.

Megan said...

I agree with your son, Ann. But my opinion is that the pressure to be happy is cultural, not doctrinal. The Gospel makes all kinds of room for hardship and suffering. It's rather the point of everything. I do sometimes feel like a minority voice though for believing that much of our joy "cometh in the morning" after we finish our sojourn in this vale of tears.

Look at me, dropping scripture phrases like a boss.

But really, this resonates with me. Thanks for posting about it.

Donna Tagliaferri said...

Not sure where it came from that we cannot be less than happy sometimes. So much culture in the gospel. I see it becoming more honest and real though. And I am convinced that Jacob, Nephi's broth er was clinically depressed. He never, ever saw happy. In fact he saw a lot of things that would put any of us over the edge. I think it has so much to do with control. we want to control things rather than just letting things be whatever they are. I love the Budmo...I may embrace it myself.

Vivian evans said...

You've got to remember it takes both ends of the spectrum to know what joy is. There is so much depth and time to life's experiences. I agree with Megan on happiness being a cultural thing. Those who understand the meaning of life and the eternal perspective of all things learn to embrace the sorrows , look forward with hope and have faith all things are for our good.