Happiness (June 2016)
Don’s Diary (Happiness)
At the forthcoming Installation of our new Worshipful Master we will be charged once again to be happy and to communicate happiness to others. It is instructive to ponder for a moment as to what sort of happiness is contemplated. We are told that happiness is a mental state of wellbeing of positive and pleasant emotions ranging from contentment through to intense joy. It does not seem to have much to do with how much money someone has beyond survival needs. Happiness is more than just not being unhappy.
We have all met people, and regrettably I have known more than a few of them in Freemasonry, who are happily full of smug self-satisfaction: fortunately there are none in Lodge Devotion. I find this sort of happiness quite abhorrent in any society, particularly in Freemasonry. Then we have those that think their “hail fellow, well met” persona demonstrates a genuine happiness: it invariably just looks shallow. There are those that are polite enough but aloof and superior showing not the slightest interest in the people that they are meeting. (I met a local Federal member and future Prime Minister once at Holdsworthy, NSW at a function to welcome our soldiers back from Vietnam. Standing head and shoulders above us he showed not the slightest interest in the soldiers but spent the night looking around the room, looking over the soldier’s heads, for someone more important to talk to.) There are those that laugh at their own jokes, those that so patronise that most people from our Australian culture will find them obnoxious: it might work elsewhere. None of these forms of “happiness” meet the requirements that I envisage in the charge.
One needs to be happy in an acceptable way before it can be communicated to others. Those that seem to the happiest seem to be content within themselves, satisfied that they have behaved properly in their dealings with others particularly with those nearest and dearest to them, and “can look at themselves in a mirror”. They will have learned that there is usually more happiness to be derived from doing things for others than satisfying their own whims. Happiness occurs from the resultant reciprocity, group admiration and self esteem.
In communicating happiness you must know how to “engage” –how to approach, make contact physically and especially with eye contact: this sends a message about integrity, ego, openness, honesty and approachability. It is easy to read and relies on our primitive instincts to determine personal safety and trust.
Having successfully “engaged”, with a smile, a comment, ears open and mouth constrained, take a positive interest in the other party. No superficially. Be yourself and if you have learned to be really happy it will be easy to communicate that message. Happiness is “infectious”. In communications, however, it is more what you do than what you say. Talk and unfulfilled comments on your position are cheap and will not lead to, or communicate happiness.