Issue: How to learn to be happy with what happens.

Convenor: MikkSarv

Participants: FremyCesar (Haiti), JohnEngle (Haiti), SheilaIsakson (USA), HannahHimanPessah? (Israel), JessieHsian? (Taiwan), ThomasFBerger? (Germany), GailWest? (Taiwan), AgnetaSetterwall (Sweden), PeggyHolman (USA), GabrieleBurkhardt? (Germany), MichaelPannwitz? (Germany), MikkSarv (Estonia).

Summary of the meeting:

The topic originated from the likeness of the words happen and happy.

Sheila (USA) mentioned the impact of assumptions to happiness. One tends to hold on to what one is assuming.

John (Haiti) raised the point: could one become happy when violence happens? Violence is a sign that someone is holding firmly to their assumptions and aren’t capable of letting go.

Agneta (Sweden) turned us to discuss disappointment. One should compost one’s disappointments until it is processed to become happy soil for new hope. It’s griefwork.

Fremy (Haiti) refered to four principles, which help to decide how to guide oneself and how to handle the disappointment. He also mentioned the slogan in Haiti: Jan li pase li pase, JPP – whatever happens is what happens. It is usually said about street demonstrations and violence in Haiti and one has to be careful when presenting the principle “whatever happens is the right thing.”

Mikk (Estonia): how to learn to cope with situations like this? Are there some good practices of how to process disappointment?

Gail (Taiwan): happiness is a high state, with celebrations and balloons. What we are here talking about is not about happiness, it is how to get to zero state, to peace, to balance.

Peggy (USA): expectations, when they are not fulfilled, create irritation.

Fremy: sometimes I am disappointed with my own disappointment. Expectations are too high. You have to realize that there are very different realities, you should train to develop a flexible spirit inside; other people's reality isn’t necessarily like yours.

Thomas (Germany): The steps between happen and happiness could be understanding, accepting, agreeing, finding peace with the situation.

Peggy: happening is more about doing, happiness is a state of being. Happiness is related to hope, happening to expectations. Hope is like breathing, aspiration and inspiration.

Mikk: in the Estonian language expectation and hope are the same word, lootus, which is related to the similar words for story and creation in our langugage. Both hope and expectation are sources for new stories, which shape and create new realities.

Gail: the sources of unhappiness after facilitating OS could be embarrassment, anger, vulnerability, fear. Unhappiness has a lot to do with one's vulnerability. In Taiwan we say: one looses face.

Agneta: Peace negotiator from Sweden, Mr. Hans Blix said: "The noble art of loosing face will one day save the human race."

Hannah (Israel): My way to be prepared for disappointment before facilitating OS is to share the responsibility, not to feel responsible for the outcome, to discuss beforehand with the sponsors, to share the fears, to work with the worse possible scenarios. It creates multiple stories to be prepared for whatever comes out. Be responsible to a group, not for a group.

Follow up:

The topic will be discussed further in the Practice of Peace meeting, November 2003 in Seattle.

Online Comments:

What should be whiter than white?
White mother goose is whiter than white.
What is more red than red?
The first morning sun ray in the dip of the condensed water on grass is more red than red.
What is happier than happiness?
The days we have lived through are happier than happiness...
I assume, that something like this should have been on the background of the similarity of the English words happening and happiness.

The same is said by RUmi with his poem the Guesthouse:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
Tho violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks, from