|Posted by Mac Mani on March 14, 2012 at 6:00 PM|
As with many great truths, these words resonate with something we know deep down. Beneath all our endeavours, we all want to be at peace, to feel content, fulfilled, at ease. None of us want to be in pain or suffer unnecessarily. We may decide to change jobs, start a new relationship or take up a new hobby because we believe we will be happier. I may choose to go hiking because I expect to get some pleasure from it, a tangible endorphin rush from the exercise, or a feeling of warmth and closeness from spending time with a friend. I may spend time writing a book, foregoing other pleasures, because I gain satisfaction from my creative expression.
The gratification that we seek may not always be immediate. Most of us do not enjoy visiting the dentist, but we go in the hope that we will suffer less later. Or we may forego some personal gain and devote our time to helping elderly relatives or others in need; yet we do so because it brings some inner fulfillment. Even the masochist, who sets out to cause himself pain, does so because he takes some comfort from it.
It is not a bottom line that can be measured in numbers, but it is nevertheless the true arbiter of all our decisions. We may think we are seeking an external goal, but we are seeking that goal in the hope that, in one way or another, we will feel better for it.
Why then do we seldom find peace of mind? After all, we are intelligent beings, we can look ahead and plan for the future. Moreover, we have many tools and technologies with which to create a better world for ourselves. One would think that we, of all creatures, would be content and at ease. Yet the very opposite seems to be the case.
As far as I can tell, a dog spends more time at ease than its owner who is busy seeking the various things he or she thinks will bring satisfaction and fulfillment. Leave a dog with nothing to do, and it will probably lie down, put its chin on the ground, and watch the world go by. Leave us human beings with nothing to do, and it is not long before we complain of being bored, get restless, and start looking for things to fill the time. We worry what we might be missing and how we might improve things, or we go check off one more thing on that never-ending "to do" list.