August is “Happiness Month”

Happy Woman SmilingThis seems a bit odd to me as happiness should really be a year round theme!

When the word “happiness” crops up, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a beautifully reflective and deep West African man from Senegal.

I made many trips to Senegal to study West African dance when I was younger. Spending time in Africa profoundly changed my life. I feel that I came in touch with a part of my humanity that is not core to modern western culture.

This friend asked me, “Why are Americans so preoccupied with happiness? Happiness is fleeting, it comes and goes.  In my culture, we do not focus on happiness which is temporary but on peace, deep peace which can be cultivated and deepened over a lifetime.”

He went on to say, “For example, we do not ask ourselves…Am I happy with this person? Or will this decision make me happy? Rather we ask ourselves…Do I feel at peace with this person? Do I feel at peace with this choice or decision?”

I realize there is great wisdom in this point of view, so I would like to be sure that the happiness we seek as an American cultural obsession is infused by wisdom and includes the enduring quality of inner peace.

When you find yourself reflecting on a moment of joy or asking whether you’re really happy, consider how inner peace relates to your sense of fulfillment and happiness in life.  How can you curate a greater, more lasting sense of peace?