On wholeness

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Coming off of an awe-inspiring weekend in Grindelwald, I entered a week that felt heavy with unsolvable problems (the fires in Northern California, to name one).

Yet the older I get, the more comfortable I have become with “heaviness” being a part of life. I don’t intend for that to come off maudlin. I think the only way to explain myself is through this quote:

I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don’t mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep” and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness.” Ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.

-Hugh McKay, the author of The Good Life

What makes you whole? Travel contributes to my wholeness, as does the stress that comes with it (two times the stress for each additional child you bring with you!). Meanwhile, here are a few links for your weekend:

You can help Northern Californians. Here’s how.

I am endlessly fascinated by the idea of living in a ‘tiny house‘…

…that is, until I come across a big house I want to live in

These pants would be perfect for long flights

I don’t have a TV, but this is the one I’d buy

Let’s book a trip to Italy!

Or Palm Springs!

We should all be ok talking about this

The importance of making your bed (your mother was right all along)

 

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2 thoughts on “On wholeness

  1. Maryanne Kane says:

    Great post, and so true about needing to have the balance in our lives that comes from handling adversity as well as good news.  “Happiness” can be superficial, especially if we look at it as a birthright.  “Joy” seems to have a spiritual component.  I have seen “joy” used in the Bible as an emotion to strive for because, for believers, it has a connection with the Holy Spirit, or a connection with God. 

    I like the concept of “wholeness” that you put forward.  It is more realistic and more sensible as a goal than “happiness,” but I think “joy” may be a product of pursuing “wholeness,” achieving the results of that search, and reflecting upon them.

    Would be interested in your thoughts on this view.

    Hope all is going well. 

    Maryanne  

    From: Bakersfield Blonde Reply-To: Bakersfield Blonde Date: Friday, October 13, 2017 at 6:09 AM To: “Maryanne S. Kane” Subject: [New post] On wholeness

    Bakersfield Blonde posted: ” Coming off of an awe-inspiring weekend in Grindelwald, I entered a week that felt heavy with unsolvable problems (the fires in Northern California, to name one). Yet the older I get, the more comfortable I have become with “heaviness” being a part of l”

  2. Bakersfield Blonde says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment Maryanne!

    For me, “joy” is a pure, unmanufactured feeling that occurs in response to being happy. I think this writer is proposing that we shouldn’t try so hard to force that; and, especially not in response to hardship or sadness. Feeling a full range of emotions is what being a human means. Moreover, our society needs to say it’s ok to feel all of these emotions. And I do think It is part of a larger conversation about mental health that I’m hearing more and more.

    I think your theory about joy being a spiritual experience is spot-on! I totally agree. I’ve been thinking about this more as I get to experience the joy of being a parent. This level of joy feels higher than anything before… maybe because it comes with a side of sleeplessness? 🙂

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