The monks graciously accept him, feed him dinner, even fix his car. As the man tries to fall asleep, he hears a really strange sound. The next morning, he asks the monks what the sound was, but they say, “We can’t tell you. You’re not a monk.”
The man is disappointed but thanks them anyway and goes about his merry way. Some years later, the same man breaks down in front of the same monastery. The monks again accept him, feed him, Even fix his car. That night, he hears the same really strange noise that he had heard years earlier.
The next morning, he asks what it was, but the monks reply, “We can’t tell you. You’re not a monk.”
The man says, “All right, all right. I’m dying to know. If the only way I can find out what that sound was is to become a monk, how do I become a monk?”
The monks reply, “You must travel the earth and tell us how many blades of grass there are and the exact number of sand pebbles. When you find these numbers, you will become a monk.”
The man sets about his task. Some forty-five years later, he returns and knocks on the door of the monastery. He says, “I have traveled the earth and have found what you have asked for.
There are 236,284,232 blades of grass and 31,281,219,999,129,382 sand pebbles on the earth.”
The monks reply, “Congratulations. You are now a monk. We shall now show you the way to the sound.”
The monks lead the man to a wooden door, where the head monk says, “The sound is right behind that door.”
The man reaches for the knob, but the door is locked. He says, “Very funny. May have the key?”
The monks give him the key, and he opens the door. Behind the wooden door is another door made of stone. The man demands the key to the stone door. The monks give him the key, and he opens it, only to find a door made of ruby. He demands another key from the monks, who provide it. Behind that door is another door, this one made of sapphire. So it went until the man had gone through doors of emerald, silver, topaz, amethyst.
Finally, the monks say, “This is the last key to the last door.” The man is relieved to no end. He unlocks the door, turns the knob, and behind that door he is amazed to find the source of that strange sound.
Do you want to know what it was?
I’d like to tell you what it is but I can’t because you’re not a monk. 🙂
There always seem to be some esoteric body of knowledge that holds the key to health, wealth, and prosperity. A search through the self-help section at the bookstore or an on-line bookseller will turn up books with titles like 7 Secrets of This, 5 Hidden Truths of That or some such. Many would think that happiness is the result of some secret reserved for only a select few.
When it comes to being happy, there are indeed keys that I would like to share with you But I wouldn’t necessarily label them as “secrets.” (FYI, the marketing geniuses tell us that using labels like “Secrets” and “Hidden” attract the most attention and result in more sales.)
So, before I get further into my list of what it takes to be happy for the rest of my life, let me engage in a little self-promotion and point to 5 blog posts before this one:
- If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, Declare a No-Gripe Month
- If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, Avoid positive thinking
- There is always a way out
- Stuff to give up if you want to be happy
- Live life in the what-it-is instead of the what-you-wished-it-was
Let’s beging with addressing what you don’t need to be happy:
- You don’t need to marry an ugly person or for that matter a beautiful person. I’m speaking in jest and hearkening back a long time to a song from my youth which said if you want to be happy for the rest of your life don’t pick a pretty girl for your wife. This is, of course, irrelevant. Happiness goes well beyond superficial things. It is far more comprehensive than appearances, but our society is fixated upon looks and many people get hung up right here. Unlike the song that claims that if you want to be happy for the rest of your life don’t pick a pretty girl for your life on the premise that an ugly girl would never provoke the attention of another, true relationships that are fulfilling, rewarding, and enduringly happy are based upon and engage far more than appearances.
- You don’t need a lot of money or a lot of things to be happy. Even though our economy is based on constant expansion, which means constant acquisition, and even though consumerism is based on replacing perfectly useable items with new ones, lots of money brings its own set of problems. When the automobile industry was in its infancy, manufacturers built cars by model, not model year. They quickly realized that they could sell more cars by making one small change. They began to label their cars by model and year. So you could buy a model X and it would last for many years. But if you bought a 1925 Model X, in 1926 you would not have the latest model even though the difference between and 1925 and a 1926 might only be a change in hubcaps. Nonetheless, it was now “not the latest” and human pride wants the latest and greatest. Sales skyrocketed. Thus, you need more money because your self-worth is too directly tied to the car you drive, the house you live in, or the clothing you wear. Even if you buy those things, happiness is fleeting because in a very short time, that new thing will become an old thing and you just have to have a new thing or you get a feeling of loss. What’s more, those latest things keep costing. They have to be cleaned, maintained, repaired, and insured while they are being “enjoyed.” No, you do not need a lot of money or things to be happy.
- You don’t need to be poor to be happy either. The stuff from which ballads are written fosters a poor but happy mentality, but poverty with its constant living-on-the-edge of bankruptcy status usually provokes lots of stress.You do need enough to feed your fmaily, put a roof over the heads, clothing on their backs, shoes on their feet. You have heard the trite expression “find a happy medium?” Well, it is one of the so-called secrets. I cannot begin to place a numeric value on that happy medium for you. It depends entirely on your circumstances, location, culture, and attitude. Check out my blog, “There is always a way out.” for my perspective on what you can do to change the circumstances you are living in.
King Solomon, ancient ruler of Israel, is regarded by many as one of the wises persons ever. He was fabulously wealthy, owned the best homes, drove the latest model chariots and powered by the highest horsepower, and had for his pleasure hundreds of beautiful women (It was the custom in those days, still is in some parts of the world, and probably the secret fantasy of most men). So, I think we can give a listen to his advice since he has indeed experienced living large in its most extreme sense. Solomon said “Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, Lest I be full and deny Thee and say, ‘Who is the LORD?” Or lest I be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.”
So, what do you need to be happy?
Well, I can’t tell you!
Not because you are not qualified to know, but because I am out of room for this blog post and will have to continue this next Tuesday. See you then.