What would make me happy in this life?
I consider true happiness to include my family being healthy and happy in their lives. I would consider having all the time I wanted to spend with my parrots a form of happiness. I would want not only the time to spend with my parrots, but the resources available to build a parrot-friendly environment for them.
Another pleasure that brings me happiness is traveling. I enjoy the decision stageswhere to go, independent or group travel, cruise or land, etc. Once decided I enjoy planning for the trip, deciding what to packhow little or how much to pack. I also revel in the actual trip itself.
I think that solitude can be a very pleasurable time, as it allows time for personal reflection, spiritual enrichment, and a time to hone perspectives. Sitting quietly provides a time to take stock of where I am, what I am planning for, and if I am on track. I can decide if I am paying too much attention to one project and not enough to another. Have I done the things I should do, or am I procrastinating? Solitude provides a wonderful opportunity to soul-search.
Focusing on the soul, I find true happiness by practicing my Catholic faith, both in my daily interaction with people, as well as keeping my Sunday obligations. Being active in my ministry makes me very happy. Giving back some of the spiritual riches I have gathered along lifes way provides a great joy. I think if I didnt have my faith, there would be no joy in my life, because it is through my faith that I am graced with the wisdom to stay focused, keep my family intact, and thereby enjoy happiness.
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Critique of what makes me happy.
My ideas of what makes me happy included a healthy, happy family, living with parrots, travel, being alone, and my faith. Fortunately, I found related passages from Aristotles Ethics that apply to each one of my choices for happiness. I will move though this essay, selecting the appropriate sections, in the order of my choices for happiness.
My first choice is a healthy, happy family. Health is one of the fist principals that Aristotle writes about. In Section 2,The Human Good and the Function Argument Aristotles assumption is that there is no list of items that are good. If such a list was to be created, Aristotle said that, most would agree that it is good to have friends, to experience pleasure, to be healthy, to be Indeed, having a family is wonderful, but having a healthy family is a Godsend.
The members of my family are also my friends, and friends play an important role in Aristotles viewpoint. One of the most profound statements in this reading I found in Section 9, Friendship. This section states in part, And yet to have a friend is to want to benefit someone for that other persons sake; it is not a merely self-interested strategy. To have such a friend is a blessing. Friendships must be cherished and nurtured so that the friendship will endure for life. For when we know how to benefit a friend for his sake, we exercise the ethical virtues, and this is precisely what our happiness consists in. What beautiful words!
Because I am blessed to have such a deep friendship with my children, I work very hard at providing support whey my children need support, or lending an ear when they just want to get something off their chest. Unfortunately, Aristotle falls short in his reasons that address why it is so important to be on the giving end of a friendship. Perhaps he did not relate friendship to a close family member. As a mother and as a friend, it is easy for me to be on the giving side of our relationship. Im am truly fortunate to have children, albeit 23 and 26, who have always not only listened to my advise, but seek it to this day.
I mentioned the pleasure my parrots give me. I enjoy every moment I spend with them and I teach them a much as I can. In Section 8, Pleasure, Aristotle merely states that, all living things imitate the contemplative activity of god. Further, the reading states, Plants and non-human animals seek to reproduce themselves because that is their way of participating in an unending series... Parrots give pleasure to their owner, and, Aristotle holds that a happy life must include pleasure.
Pleasure in my life is varied, and as stated in Section 8, pleasures compete with each other. This is very true. Moreover, not only do pleasures compete with each other, they interfere with each other as is also stated by Aristotle. My parrots are my pleasure, but when a travel opportunity takes me to a foreign country, I have two competing pleasures: my parrots must be left behind and my desire to travel is the cause of leaving my parrots behind. Along with owning parrots and enjoying the pleasure they bring me, there is the downside to that pleasure.
Parrots are messy! They require daily feeding two times a day, and cage cleaning twice a day. The food is not seed, but nutritionally prepared food. Again, Aristotle points out that we must make choices over which pleasures we choose over others. My parrots, for instance, are not the pleasure of my husband. Given the opportunity (my demise), I have no doubt that my husbands pleasure of enjoying a clean house with clean walls and unstained floors would take hold and my parrots would go to other homes.
A home without parrots would probably increase my opportunity for solitude and contemplation, and Aristotle states, pleasure of contemplation is the good, because in one way or another all living beings aim at this sort of pleasure. When, for most of the day, one is surrounded by noise, people, ringing phones and traffic, a bit of solitude and time for quiet contemplation is a very welcomed pleasure. In VII.13, it is mentioned that the idea that all living things imitate the contemplative activity of god (1153b31-1), serves to confirm my choice of solitude as a method to think and get a focus on my daily journey. Further, in his books, Section 10, Three Lives Compared, Aristotle says, Perfect happiness consists in contemplation. (X.7-8). It coexists with his statements that, the happiest human life resembles the life of a divine being.
During my times of solitude, I mediate in a number of different ways, which adds to my ultimate choice for happiness my faith. Despite Aristotles mere hints of a supreme being, it is clear that faith in God did not escape him. It is during my quiet time that I believe I draw strength that guides me in counseling my children during various needs that arise in their life. In Section 4, Virtues and Deficiencies, Continence and Incontinence, Aristotle makes reference to developing proper habits and acquiring practical wisdom. I am blessed to have been raised with, and continue to develop proper habits, and its during my quiet time that I believe Im infused with the wisdom to lead, steer, guide and direct my family.
In solitude, I merely sit outside in the early morning and watch ants crawl, or the trees blow in the wind, or wild birds that drop by for a visit or a morsel of worms. Lastly, it was well said in Section 10, everyone needs relaxation.