Sunday’s Wisdom #379: Finding Happiness

“Seriously, you could do whatever you want to do. What makes you happy?”
– Sam Wilson, Captain America and the Winter Soldier

A lot of the quotes I’ve shared have depended rather heavily on context to convey their full meaning. This one doesn’t really, I think. It’s just two friends talking, bonding, sharing their issues with each other. Captain America is trying to find his way through a confusing modern world, questioning what he wants and what he would do if he got out of the military, wherein he is basically fighting forever on the front line. Sam just advises him to consider what makes him happy. That’s all it is, really. Just some really grounded, down-to-earth perspective between friends. (which is ironic, considering how, as the Falcon, Sam flies around all the time)

Sometimes the greatest wisdom will be found in the most ordinary conversations with the most ordinary people.

There’s something about this which makes me very, very thankful to be alive today. I mean, generations upon generations of our ancestors, for thousands of years, had their entire lives dominated by what they had to do in order to survive. How richly blessed are we, who can define ourselves by happiness instead of necessity?

We are born into a world of opportunities. The question is how we use them.

And there is another side to this, where we need to be careful of what defines our happiness. For some, there is no happiness at all without the latest and greatest fill-in-the-blank. For others, they think they can only be happy if they have as good or better than someone else. Still others think they must do something, achieve something, or be some particular thing in order to be happy. And so many think that happiness is found in the glittering glamour of the high life, of status, power, wealth, and popularity, as well as the pleasures of the world.

There is something to be said for the man who can be happy no matter where he is or what circumstance he is in. It is not bad to be happier with a more humble life, where one does not need the temporary things of the world, which may all turn to ash in due time anyway. That does not mean we must consign ourselves to poverty, of course, but it is most unwise to confuse happiness with all the shiny things that bring us only momentary pleasure.

Happiness, in my experience, is something that comes from within, from knowing that we have a good life filled with purpose and people who love us.

That might not be exactly how anyone else defines it, but that’s the real point: we all need to figure it out, each one of us, for ourselves. We can’t copy someone else’s answer, though we can find a great deal in common among our answers.

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