Happiness is…

When our fore father’s were writing what would become one of the most important and controversial documents framing societal mores so to speak, they obviously believed that “happiness” was an important  factor by including;

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” one of the most famous phrases in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and seen as part of the Bill of Rights, namely, these three aspects are listed among the “inalienable rights” of man.

It seems in this time of political turmoil, an ongoing war in Iraq and the economy stressing out just about everyone, the subject of “happiness” is being discussed and dissected more than ever.  

Time magazine devoted an issue to The New Science of Happiness

The British BBC television kicked off a six part series on the subject this week;

The series looks at the newest research from around the world to find out what could it be that makes us happy.

We all want to be happy but the problem has always been that you can’t measure happiness.

Happiness has always been seen as too vague a concept, as Lord Layard, Professor of Economics at the LSE and author of “Happiness – lessons from a new science” points out.

“There is a problem with the word happiness.

“When you use the word happy, it often has the sort of context of balloons floating up into the sky or something frivolous.”

Now scientists say they can actually measure happiness.

Neuro-scientists are measuring pleasure. They suggest that happiness is more than a vague concept or mood; it is real. “

Clearly “happiness”, it’s meaning and importance differs individually.  The following are some fascinating and revealing quotes about the subject from writer’s, philosophers and other colorful characters I found worth sharing:

  •  I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy. ~Franz Kafka
  • If only we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.  ~Edith Wharton
  • Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys.  If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.  ~Fyodor Dostoevsky 
  • This is my “depressed stance.”  When you’re depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand.  The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better.  If you’re going to get any joy out of being depressed, you’ve got to stand like this.  ~Charlie Brown
  •  You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. ~Camus
  • There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year’s course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.~Carl Jung .

Obviously there are divergent views of the concept of “happiness.”  The song below is my own way of perhaps mocking the idea as well as sharing a great tune.  There is a great deal of controversy over what the song means.  Some claim it represents heroine, others say it refers to homo-erotocism, and a bevy of other theories.  I won’t even pretend to know what was meant by the song, but for me it is one more brilliant contribution from the Beatles both musically and philosophically. 

The Beatles – Happiness is a Warm Gun

It seems to me that we are so busy worrying about “happiness” and attaining it that perhaps we are missing the point all together.  With that said, I want to know what “happiness,” the word or idea mean to you?  Are you happy?  Do you care?  Either way, feel free to share your thoughts, I look forward to exploring this further and maybe even learning something about myself in the process.  Have a “happy” day.

Copyright ©2008 Veronica Romm

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Blasting Rock and Roll

You send me a message in the form of a  song,

I listen to you singing  all night long.

You know I can’t ignore it,

The ache is getting strong

It feels like any minute,

No matter right or wrong.

Fighting to contain it,

is oh so futile now.

Must be a way to get to you  

You know I will somehow.

Can you remember yearning

in the far depths of your soul.

When all that could sedate it

was blasting hard core Rock and Roll.

For that very moment

A frozen wisp of time.

You’re all I need to help me breath,

Is that some kind of crime?

You sent me a message in the form of a  song,

I listened to you singing all night long.

I still remember yearning

in the far depths of my soul.

When all that would sedate it

was blasting hard core Rock and Roll.

Copyright ©2008 Veronica Romm

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I am a conspiracy theorist.

There are at least two sides to every story, and once the media gets involved then there are countless more. I was a precocious child and seriously questioned “facts” I was being taught at school or heard on television. Thankfully my parents indulged my inquisitive nature and provided, to the best of their ability, answers and explanations. However, some explanations just didn’t equate and because I was a curious student I tended to independently research topics that the history books seemed to gloss over. In middle school I did three separate reports on the Cosa Nostra, the Mai Lai Massacre and Nixon’s presidency for one history class and the teacher asked me if I was OK, and suggested that perhaps I needed some guidance from the counselor due to my “depressing” (his words) topics. I believe this to be the time I started to lean toward alternative or “conspiracy theories.”

Through high school, college, and graduate school as well as a ridiculous amount of additional reading, my views on conspiracy theory evolved. I began to view the media as entertainment, often bereft of truth and always biased. Reporter’s were just actors reading words from a teleprompter fed them by sources who were responsible for making sure the news was just right for mass consumption. This created dissonance in me and led to a general distrust of authority. Needless to say it was a disappointing evolution but one that was inevitable for my personality and nature.

The event that convinced me, however, was the death of Princess Diana. Let me first say that I believe human beings are all “psychic” to some degree. I am a person who has had enough vivid premonitions (that have proven correct) to be convinced of “precognitive” phenomena as it pertains to me. I recognize these “visions“when the flash of information is accompanied by a very physical reaction, best described as a “gut feeling” increased heart rate and a sense of dread. (Unfortunately, my psychic sensitivity is strongest when pertaining to impending death, or physical trauma. Lucky me.) I digress; I was looking through our mail and found a People magazine (guilty pleasure) with a full cover shot of Diana and a small inset picture of Dodi Fayed the headline mentioned that the Princess might be with child. I remember holding the magazine and saying out loud (no one was home) “Diana, what are you thinking, they are going to have you killed. The mother of the future King of England can’t have a stepchild with an Arab. This is the final straw.” I stared at the cover and felt doom and dread, which is the only way to describe it. Of course, I forgot about it in a few days, but not before telling my Mom and best friend, the weird premonition I had. Three weeks later, as I made my way home in the early hours of the morning from a night out in NYC, I turned on the TV and there is was. The car had just crashed eight minutes or so prior and there was no word on the condition of the passengers. Once I heard Diana was involved I knew she was gone and I sat and cried, watching the coverage. The official announcement that Princess Di and Dodi had perished came sometime later, but it was a formality for I knew what had happened on a guttural level. Of course hearing confirmation just turned the tears to sobs, as my mother and best friend watched the same coverage and tried to comfort me as best they could. This was by no means the first time I had a similar experience, I just wished I had been wrong.

Time Out: This is where you think I am crazy and delusional and I would too. I know I am putting myself out there for ridicule, but that is in fact what a conspiracy theory invites.

Since then I have delved deeply into the Kennedy family, which perhaps was the most disenchanting research I have come across. Camelot? What Camelot? Watching Spitzer squirm out of politics, I wondered how J.F.K. might have fared under the same media scrutiny? My guess is he would never have been elected for a second term, if he ever made it to a first. A dirtier bunch has yet to be found.

The events which transpired on 9/11 were very close to home for me. Having lived in New York for most of my life the grief over lost friends and acquaintances had to be endured and only with time could they be questioned. Consequently, along with the sadness, disbelief and anger I was feeling, there was the gnawing suspicion that somehow the events of that day were not as they had been reported. It took quite some time to be able to start thinking about and asking questions about those facts. I discovered Loose Change, the first edition one day on YouTube and watched with horror as the documentary laid out the information that pointed to other theories of the attack. Skeptic that I was, there were some glaring discrepancies the film illuminated which I could not ignore (See the third edition of Loose Change for all the hypotheses). And so, like many conspiracy theorists, I simply don’t believe the party line that 9/11 was an act of brilliant terrorists who managed to pull off the impossible.

I by no means claim to know what happened in any of these tragic historical events, and am resigned to the fact that I may never know to my satisfaction. Yet they all, in their own way, foster my belief in conspiracies, cover-ups and crimes perpetrated at the expense of human lives and with blatant disregard for truth, morality and any semblance of a government that can be trusted. So I question everything, do you?

Copyright ©2008 Veronica Romm

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