A Brilliant Spark: Finding Happiness and Meaning


by Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC

For what it’s worth here are a few end-of-the-year thoughts. As a therapist, I am asked many things some are heartbreaking, some are deep and provocative, while others light and humorous. Two common questions that I hear have little to do with psychology or counseling such as, “What is happiness?” and/or “What is the meaning of life?” Though well versed through personal experience, I am still hardly a pundit on such matters. So it is with my utmost apologies if what follows seems too brief, too sanguine, or too morose a response. In spite of all our failures I remain “tragically” optimistic that we can acknowledge and respect each other, not just as beings made unique by our differences, but as fellow travelers to the grave. Our journeys begin and end in a brilliant spark, and to know death is to know life and vice versa.

So if the answers to what we want in our lives is more happiness and meaning, then what are the self-imposed obstacles? Moreover, if we know the answers then maybe we are not asking the right questions. Do we fear death? Do we fear life? Do we fear each other? If so, how do these fears influence our ability to be “happy” and to live the life we want or think we want?

Weltanschauung is a fun German word meaning ideology, political doctrine, dogma or articles of faith. Yet, with all it’s trappings, weltanschauung shouldn’t solely define our purpose as a species. For one thing, it may provide some peace of mind, but it certainly does not foster happiness. And for the record, suspicion, ignorance and prejudice kill. Doesn’t abhorrence of others and fear of the unknown sabotage the very happiness we profess to want in both our personal and collective experiences? My point is that happiness is fleeting. It’s time with us is brief as it is birthed in thought, sustained in action and nurtured in experience. In short, the answer to finding happiness (if there is one at all) lies somewhere between I should do and I will do. Oh, and as for the meaning of life? Go make something…

Peace, love, and better days to you and yours in 2017.

In good health,