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What is it that we seek in life? It is to be happy. We express our happiness when we experience something that is pleasurable or satisfying.

Yet, maintaining the happiness we find is like trying to hold onto a fish freshly pulled from the water. As hard as we try, it keeps slipping from our grasp. And since it requires some event or experience (which are temporary to our existence) to bring it about, we can understand why it is so fleeting. Living in itself is a happy prospect; without which there can be no further opportunities for future happiness through events of various natures.

The majority of us seek happiness through the means of  wealth, pleasure, power and honor. In and of themselves these four avenues toward happiness can be viable instruments in the process. However, when inordinate attention is given to them, they can be controlling and therefore undermine their intended purpose.

We are born with some innate needs that must be fulfilled, so that our bodies function properly and efficiently. Let us take hunger as an example; It is one of our basic needs that we must satisfy to stay in good health and to remain in existence. Since hunger is intrinsic to us, we do not require instruction to eat. We are driven to do so by a natural urge. As we adhere to the call of hunger, we also should adhere to our internal gauge that informs us when hunger has been satisfied.

Although hunger is an instinctive function, we do have control. We can follow our innate urge to eat and still heed the call to stop when satisfied. Or, we can intervene in the process by over- or under-indulging. For example, my favorite food is pizza. And when I have over-indulged, the enthusiasm I felt when the pizza arrived is lost at the feeding frenzy’s end.

If we make a habit of overstepping bounds, one way or another, by initiating an imbalance of passion over purpose, we open the door to ill health or other unpleasant consequences. The happiness enjoyed through pleasure when we follow the natural manner to relieve hunger is now disrupted, and leads to discontent. And happiness and contentment are synonymous.

There is a unique purpose in all things, and the limits that govern them to proficiency must be respected, if we are to receive the ultimate benefit – a happy experience. Wealth, pleasure, power and honor fall into the category of all things. Each is with purpose and limits.

For wealth without charity tends to greed; pleasure without restraint leads to addiction; power that shows no compassion for the suffering, no mercy for the guilty, nor justice for the innocent is tyranny; and honor not tempered by humility becomes arrogance.

All things have a goodness associated with it. When we choose to respect their limits, we are exercising self-control, which allows an inherent goodness to come forward. And when we are the beneficiaries of goodness, we know happiness.

Since we are capable of self-control, it must be important – to our very happiness.

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I am a retired Catholic School teacher for the Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut. I taught mathematics at the secondary level and coached varsity girls volleyball, as well as other high school sports. During my tenure as head coach our volleyball teams won four class-S state championships. I was named Coach of the Year in that sport in 1988, and inducted into the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame in 2007, as a scholastic coach.

I have written two books, one published in 2005, titled The Little Red Chair, an autobiography of my life experience with polio, and A View From The Quiet Corner, a book of original poems and reflections, published in 2009.

I am presently a co-author for the bestselling book series by David Mezzapelle, Contagious Optimism, which contains the real life stories from everyday folks who have, through the use of forward positive thinking, overcome trials in their lives.

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  1. November 15, 2013 ~ Alan Malizia has given us much to ponder and absorb in his excellent essay “Are You Bound to be Happy?” One of my favorite concepts is “Living in itself is a happy prospect; without which there can be no further opportunities for future happiness through events of various natures.” What I take away from that theory is that I should be happy simply because I woke up this morning. I should be happy to face another beautiful day. For me, this thought says to Live in the Moment. Stop reaching into the future for a better day to come, and enjoy this very day … actually go beyond that and enjoy this very moment! Thank you so very much Mr. Malizia for inspiring me to live life to the fullest this day.~ Linda Wheeler Donahue, President, The Polio Outreach of Connecticut

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