How do happiness and love find us?

How do we achieve happiness? Well, I discovered in 1999 that the cessation of reaching for things is a very good place to start.


By patti dawn swansson

I would have to stretch my memory a fair distance to recall the last time I saw my dear friends Brian, Sean and Bruce.

patti dawn swansson
patti dawn swansson

Whereas we once gathered at a local watering hole most every Sunday to share a bite, a pint (or three) and our thoughts and lives with one another, it surely must be more than a month since I last was blessed with their company. Actually, it has probably been two months. Maybe more. I truly can’t remember the timeline.

But they’re busy boys. Each has a good job he enjoys (the forever searching Sean just landed a fresh gig), they have many interests and they’re in long-term relationships (Brian and Sean are married, Bruce has his man Dan). Myself, on the other hand, I take whatever work I can dredge up, I write (sometimes for pay but mostly for pleasure) and the only relationship I’ve had in the past eight years has been with the thoughts I scratch down on scraps of paper before turning them into books, newspaper/magazine articles or short essays. Thus, with those beautiful boys so engaged in their activities and each other, and me flying solo, I understand the disconnect that has developed between us in the physical realm.

That’s why I was delighted to receive a missive from Brian last week.

It wasn’t lengthy. Just a few words to touch base.

Brian closed his note with, “We miss you and love you dearly.”

That was not touching base. That was touching my heart. After all, what do we wish in life other than happiness and to be loved (or, at the very least, liked)?

Oh, sure, many of us reach for things. Like power and prestige. Like fame and fortune. My experience is that each of those things is largely overrated.

You can have the greatest job in the world (been there). You can have a bulging bank account (been there, too), fancy cars (done that), a mansion on the hill (I had a 15-acre horse farm), blah, blah, blah, but the rainbow in life is happiness and the knowledge that we love and are loved. That trumps all.

How does happiness visit us? Well, I discovered in 1999 that the cessation of reaching for and wanting things is a very good place to start. I once took part in the chase for things, but as long as we are reaching for and wanting things, true happiness cannot possibly find us. If we are never satisfied with the things we have, with what is, how can we be happy? We want a faster car. We want a larger house. We want a better-paying job. We want a prettier girlfriend or more handsome boyfriend. It is only once there is no reaching and wanting that true happiness is able to locate you.

Yet we still have a need for love to find us. To love and to be loved. But you don’t have to reach for it. Once you have ceased reaching for and wanting things, you are now on the radar screen of both happiness and love. They will find you.

I know my friend Brian loves me. And he knows I love him. We don’t have to tell each other because we both know it to be so.

But we must tell each other. We must show each other. We must not take that love for granted.

Do you practise loving speech?

When you see the pink rose, you say how beautiful it is. You gush about the beauty of the sunset. Loved ones are as the beautiful flower or the sunset, yet we do not always speak of beauty when we see them.

Love is like the field of wheat. You don’t simply plant seeds then hope they grow. You water the field of wheat. You nurture it. You care for it. You pray for the proper measure of sun and rain. You let the field of wheat know that you love it.

Should we be any less mindful of our loved ones?

It seems to me that we don’t tell each other what they mean to us often enough. I know I have been guilty of that. When I last saw Brian and Sean and Bruce, we hugged. We always do. But were they mindful hugs? Were they meaningful hugs? Did I acknowledge how much they mean to me? Did I say, “I am so happy that you have come into my life” when we embraced? I’m not sure I did.

There are, of course, different layers to the embrace.

For example, when a mother sends her daughter off to college, she will give her a more meaningful squeeze than if they were simply meeting over lunch. Even if no words are spoken, there will be a special touch, a special emotion in the mother’s embrace as the daughter is about to leave the nest. The mother is saying, “I know it is time for you to fly away, dear one. I shall miss you deeply but I love you and I am always with you.” The daughter will feel it in the clutch of her mother’s arms, the caress of her hands and in the beating of her heart. This is a mindful, meaningful hug.

We aren’t going to do this every time we are with a loved one, but we can surely tell them how we feel with words.

It’s saying so little to say so much. It’s one way for happiness and love to find us.

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