The Pursuit of Happiness
1. the quality or state of being happy.
2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.
—Synonyms 1, 2. pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, satisfaction. Happiness, bliss, contentment, felicity imply an active or passive state of pleasure or pleasurable satisfaction. Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good: the happiness of visiting one's family. Bliss is unalloyed happiness or supreme delight: the bliss of perfect companionship. Contentment is a peaceful kind of happiness in which one rests without desires, even though every wish may not have been gratified: contentment in one's surroundings. Felicity is a formal word for happiness of an especially fortunate or intense kind: to wish a young couple felicity in life.
—Antonyms 1. misery.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
We spend much time thinking that we have to have certain things... Or do certain things in order to be happy. Many people depend upon other people and the actions of those other people to make them happy. The pursuit of happiness is a favorite pastime in these United States.
Check out our movies... Check out the TV programs... Check out where people go for entertainment... Check out how much time and money is spent on entertainment. Entertainment is a method of gaining contentment... Contentment is one of our keys to happiness.
1. the act of entertaining; agreeable occupation for the mind; diversion; amusement: Solving the daily crossword puzzle is an entertainment for many.
2. something affording pleasure, diversion, or amusement, esp. a performance of some kind: The highlight of the ball was an elaborate entertainment.
3. hospitable provision for the needs and wants of guests.
4. a divertingly adventurous, comic, or novel.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
When I was a child I was left to entertain myself. I read, listened to the radio, went fishing, went hunting, went exploring, went to visit neighbor kids to play, went swimming, built my own small world with my trains and accessories and set up problems to solve using them... Comic books were an occasional treat... A movie in town six miles away was an occasional treat... A drive-in movie with all the local kids in the back of a truck was an even more rare treat... Going to the skating rink was a rare treat...
Then a couple neighbors got TV's and we had more convenient entertainment as long as we got along well with those kids...
All of this kept me entertained until I was old enough to discover girls... Then I would hitch-hike to town for dates... And then hitch-hike back home, sometimes hiking all the way, the full six miles in the deepest darkness of night. Next came use of parents car... Then a job... Then a motorcycle... Then my own car... All of this in the pursuit of entertainment which is supposed to contribute to our happiness.
Then I moved to the city school where I could gain a better education... After a lot of dating many girls and pursuing happiness, I met the love of my life, whom I married as soon as I graduated high school, and immediately went to work in engineering and started studying and learning Civil Engineering. This was supposed to be ecstasy... And it was... except now I had obligations rather than being able to pursue happiness I had committed myself to trying to provide for someone else and make her happy.
I was never taught nor shown what marriage was supposed to be so I went into it with the popular romantic notions of the day... Sleeping all inter-twined with each other is supposed to be happiness, but I found I could not sleep well that way and neither could she. Sometimes touching one another would bring peaceful sleep... Sometimes cuddling one another would bring peaceful sleep... But most of the time she was on one side of the bed in a comfortable, for her, position and I was on the other side in a comfortable, for me, position. Romance might precede sleep and bring it on but romance was one thing... Sleeping was another. We may have slept in the same bed but the sleeping was not romance.
The interaction of daily living for two people in love was supposed to be romantic according to the movies and love stories of the day... But we found out that engaging in intimacy was not the major pastime of daily life... Work and selfless concern for the needs of the other person in the marriage was supposed to be the major pastime of daily life... But sometimes work took so much out of you that you could do little more than work, eat and sleep.
When not working, eating or sleeping, my wife and I found that we had different interests that entertained us.... So we each pursued the interest that contented us. We also learned to be tolerant of our differences and we learned to ask for what we needed from the other if we were not receiving what we needed that the other could furnish. That is called communication and it is the most important factor in any marriage. Marriage and intimacy cannot work without good communication. Communication means at least two people giving and receiving messages to one another and employing feed back to clarify that each is receiving the message the other person is sending.
I now know that it is the responsibility of parents to teach boys how to be husbands and fathers... And to teach girls how to be wives and mothers.... But no one had taught us and we learned by much trial and much error, but we survived and learned to love each other more and more each day, no matter how trying the day was. Premarital training was severely lacking in my society as I was growing up... And I find that it is just as lacking today as it was then. I also found, as a clergyman, that even when I give premarital counseling to young people... When they get into trouble in the relationship... That they seldom remember our classes and discussions. Then they must come back for more help or they fail in the relationship.
We grow up watching movies and programs where everyone drinks alcoholic beverages to be sociable and find entertainment and happiness... Especially the heroes and stars drink, often to excess, and make it look enticing... And often we see them tearing their clothes off as they try to get to each other, supposedly having the unbridled passion sparked by the alcohol. I found out that alcohol hindered my ability to be sociable or sexual and that contentment and happiness eluded me if I engaged in drinking alcohol so I very quickly gave up on that popular practice even though most everyone around me engaged in it except my wife and I.
When I became a law enforcement officer as a Trooper I found that our private parties were always populated with alcohol and most everyone drank, some drank far too much, and still drove their cars to get home.
I saw alcohol destroy the marriage of my father and mother... And then it finally destroyed my father's life by being the cause of his losing everything that it took to live... Then he took his own life with a shotgun to the chest. I had to enter that boarding house room and clean out his things while bits and pieces of him were still clinging to the walls around me and his peculiar odor permeated that room. Alcohol was one way he choose to pursue happiness and I watched it insidiously steal life from him until he could no longer live. A little would make him fun seeking and jovial... More would make him sick and mean. He could never stop with a little. It was always too much.
For over 45 years I have counseled people with problems and enforced the laws or assisted in enforcing the laws governing public drunkenness and driving under the influence. For most of that time I have been involved in the tragic aftermath of the incidents that happen to people pursuing happiness while drinking alcohol or consuming mind altering drugs and helping to handle the grief created by the mishaps that cause injury and death while they are so busy pursuing happiness and contentment.
For the past 18 years it has been my summertime duty to work the busiest block on our resort strip where there are about a dozen nightclubs on the three sides of the block... And assist in keeping the peace among those who mix alcohol with the pursuit of happiness... Some wind up in fights; getting arrested; spending the night in the gray bar hotel; in the emergency room; or their bodies wind up in the morgue and I have to deliver the bad news to surviving family and loved ones.
All of this is a message conveyed to our world about contentment and happiness but it is all deceptive and falsehood.
Alcohol, illicit mind altering drugs, sex, free love with multiple partners... Just some of the pastimes of our society today... These are not routes to happiness and contentment. They are just places on a very bumpy road that cause the users to need more and more of whatever it is that the are using just to get close to the last high they experienced... But never quite getting there. They get trapped into seeking that perfect high... That perfect experience... That unending good time... NONE OF THESE EXIST... But the message of our time is that it does exist and that the seeker can achieve it most any time. I have watched this parade for over 45 years and I have found no one who was able to achieve the high and maintain it over any reasonable period of time by using these methods.
Happiness can be attained but not as the world says it can be done. There is a way to happiness but it must be inside the person and it is not gained by all of the worldly, external methods most people are using. Happiness and contentment are a by-product... A by-product of learning the simple way that life was designed for us to live and by learning how to give the proper attention to each facet of our lives that we may be fruitful, have peace, have contentment and enjoy the life we have wherever we are at any moment. Happiness is also the by-product of learning what does not give us the happiness and contentment that we seek and leave those destructive things alone.
For me, the best and lasting happiness was meeting Jesus Christ after seeking a connection with God for twenty years. From the moment I met Him until this moment I have never been unhappy... Since I learned His way of life for me I have never been without contentment. I have been in some very hard and difficult experiences in those 45 years but I have never lost the happiness and contentment that started when I met Him... It has just become stronger and more durable. In my 45 years of serving the people in need in this world I have seen the worst of the worst... In my personal life I have plumbed the depths of personal loss... I have experienced the deepest pain of loneliness because of the personal losses and the deaths of loved ones... But never, at any of those times and experiences, did I ever lose my happiness and contentment... Not even during the deaths of my wife and youngest son... That my Compadres is a testimony to the Grace and keeping Power of our Creator and the Way of life He wants to teach to us.
Make no mistake here Compadres, I am not talking about religion, I am talking about life
learned and lived according to His directions for our time. I took the challenge... I learned the Way... I applied what I learned... It has worked for me and He put me here in this life as a Peace Keeper to help you when you need help and when you recognize that you need it. There are five areas of your lives that need regular attention and most do not give that attention because they do not know that they can or should.
In peace keeping we stress training, training, training... Practice, practice, practice... But when it comes to personal life most of us leave it to feelings and chance... Most of us are like pin balls in a game machine... We are shot into situations... We bounce off things... We fall into holes... We are slapped around by circumstances... Sometimes we win... Sometimes we lose... Sometimes it is a draw... And we become so empty inside that contentment is far from us... We become empty and hurting... We become hard to live with... We become hard to work with and work for...
Happiness is contentment and the best picture I can give you of that is an infant that is well fed, warm, clean, dry and cooing and playing with the toys we give him to amuse himself... or simply playing with his own feet that he has just discovered. Somewhere in our growing we lose that and only God can bring us back to it. If I had not proven that for myself over all of these long years, I would not be fool enough to write it into this message.
Warriors have always needed contentment. We gain it sporadically in many ways but it never seems to last for very long... Mine has lasted for over 45 years and still is mine in this moment in spite of all that life has thrown at me and the circumstances of that with which I deal today. Life has not been made easier for me as far as life experience is concerned. What has been made easier and better for me is that I know that I am not in this life alone and that all of my success does not depend upon me alone. I know that I can and do make mistakes but I also know that the ONE whom I serve and work with, my Commander-In-Chief, does not ever leave me without the support that I need in order to accomplish the tasks that are assigned to me. The adventure has been great and marvelous... I have stared Death in the face many times, yet I am still here today. In over 45 years I have received only two scratches... I have never had to strike nor injure any person... I have held a few... I have taken a few to the ground under my knee and flashlight... I have worked some terrible places and terrible circumstances alone.... I have made many multiple arrests alone... I gave a lot of people choices about how they wanted to respond to me... By Grace and Mercy I am still here to serve... Because by Grace and Mercy all those to whom I gave the choice responded to me meekly and properly or they were quickly, physically brought into submission and under control.
Even as I think on some of these incidents I see the Hand of my Creator giving me guidance and assistance... I learned and I responded to what I learned with application... And application brought me experiences and Wisdom... Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge and experience at the right time for the right results.
Now, I am well aware that He considers all of you His Ministers of Rightness in this world... But I am just as well aware that many of you do not have the knowledge He wants you to have in order for you to be continuously happy and content within yourselves. I pray daily for all of you to receive that knowledge and learn how to apply it to your lives.
My prayers for each of you always cover, relationship, strength, health, peace, power, prosperity... and now contentment... plus the greatest of blessing... Those prayers cover your families and loved ones as well. He and I want all of you and yours to receive what you need, learn how to cooperate with it... Learn how to apply it... and how to attain the results He has designed for you to have as His Minister of Rightness in this world.
We thank you... Eternally, we thank you... Without you there would be no world as we know it. This whole world needs you all and needs each of you. Thank you for who you are... For what you have done and are doing... And for what you are yet going to do.
"BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!" ALWAYS be alert, watchful, suspicious and wary. Take the very best care of you as you care for and about others. See to the strength and well being of your spirit as well as all the rest of you. Your spirit must be strong for you to be successful.
Call or write if I may be of any service... Or if you just want to encourage me... Feedback encourages all who write... It helps to know we are reaching someone who reads the message.
As it has always been... So it still is!!!
"VICTORIOUS WARRIORS WIN FIRST...
AND THEN GO TO WAR,
WHILE DEFEATED WARRIORS GO TO WAR FIRST...
AND THEN SEEK TO WIN." Sun tzu
Training and practice are everything!
Without it, the best results are not obtained!
ONLY LIVE PEACE KEEPERS SEE THE VICTORY!!!
THEY SEE IT ONLY BECAUSE OTHERS HAVE MADE THEIR ETERNAL
PAYMENTS OF SWEAT, BLOOD, TEARS AND LIFE FOR THAT VICTORY!
WITH THE DEEPEST OF APPRECIATION AND RESPECT...
BE BLESSED (A CONDITION TO BE ENVIED)...
BE SUCCESSFUL... BE SAFE...
[My injunction to be safe means doing all you know to do as you do your job... it means
doing the best you can with what you have where you are using all your faculties to get
the job done well and with good results conquering evil and keeping or restoring peace...
it does not mean to avoid duty and honor... it does not mean to cower or allow anything
to hinder you in the process of duty according to rules, law and ethics... it means that if
the demand takes your earthly life you destroy as much evil as possible in the process.
That is my definition of being safe... doing the best you can and leaving the rest to God
or whomever else is responsible... being best employed for the sake and protection of all
the things and people that we hold dear.]
I represent, write for... and give the credit to:
God the Father (my Commander-in-Chief),
Jesus Christ the Son (the Eternal Captain of my life) and
the Holy Spirit of God (my Eternal Teacher, Keeper and Guide).
In Christ I live... with Him and for you I serve...
And I rejoice that you are there whether you are Christian or not...
D. R. (Don) Staton, Chaplain to Peace Keepers,
Surviving Peace Keeper,
Virginia State Police Alumni,
RETIRED Police Officer Virginia Beach Police Dept.,
DCJS Certified Police Instructor,
Community Service Officer (Traffic Safety)
3709 Beacon Lane, Virginia Beach, VA 23452
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Monday, April 07, 2008
The Pursuit of Happiness