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Happiness is more than state of mind

If we think about it, nearly everything we do is intended for happiness. In other words, happiness is something everyone seems to want. And yet, in spite of its incredible demand, Ohio State doesn’t have a course on it.Part of the problem is that our culture is still being led by the extended ‘happiness carrot.’ This carrot works something like this: Do well in high school so you can get into college. Do well in college so you get a good job. Get a good job so you can make a lot of money. Make a lot of money to support a family, buy a big house, and drive a nice car. And somewhere in there, we’re supposed to be happy. But as many people find out, they’re not any happier than before. That’s because they don’t know what makes them happy, or for our purposes here, they haven’t studied happiness.You see, if people knew the happiness basics, they would spend more time being happy. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if OSU students understood happiness, crime would decrease, grades would improve, and the campus atmosphere would be much more pleasant. So there are many reasons to offer such a course.However, since it will take the administration a year to hear such a proposal, another to vote on it, and at least two more to implement it, I will give a few suggestions and ingredients for those eager to add to their own happiness recipes. (As a side note, you may find the word ‘peaceful’ to be a better substitute for ‘happiness’).First off, happiness comes from within. External sources – from material objects to friends – may (or may not) help bring happiness, but it can only happen from within individuals. Unsurprisingly, once above the poverty line, income makes little to no difference in terms of happiness.Second, and contrary to popular belief, the most happy people love themselves. However, this does not mean they are self-centered. Freud was wrong in this respect – narcissistic people hate themselves.Third, happiness can only happen in the present tense. As much as people cling to the past and yearn for the future, they can only live in the present. Happiness is a state, and can only be experienced in the now.Fourth, happy people are in control of their lives. Thoughts, emotions, and habits do not control the person, the person controls them.Finally, and in my opinion the most important, people become more fulfilled as they become more non-dual. Stated differently, happiness is freedom from dualisms (winning/losing, rich/poor, success/failure, right/wrong, life/death, or my own playful hang-up – conservative/liberal). Why? One is defined by the other. One cannot exist without the other. (Can there be a winner without a loser?) Happiness embraces both sides of dualisms.Actually, OSU does have some courses related to happiness which are found under HPER. However, the Creative Activities program is your best bet (292-9983). My personal recommendation for next quarter is the Zen Lifestyles Class because Zen (which is often mistaken to be a religion) is primarily concerned with living fully in the present tense. I have also found two books to be quite useful: No Boundary (1979) and Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Performance (1990).

Brad Kose is a graduate student in educational policy & leadership

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