Psyblog has a good post about happiness from the perspective of Confucian teaching in the light of modern discoveries. I was particularly attracted to the quote by Confucius at the start of the post -
“The one who would be in constant happiness must frequently change.”
I’ve often said that one guaranteed “fact of life” is that everything constantly changes. Nothing stays the same. There’s an old story told of a ruler asking for a speech which he could use in ALL situations, and several of his philosophers and teachers taking on the task and failing, until finally, one man gives him the speech which works in all situations (another version of this story involves King Solomon looking for a ring which will relieve his suffering which he fears will go on forever, and he is given a ring with a few words carved into it) What was the speech? Same as the words in King Solomon’s ring -
THIS TOO SHALL PASS
That’s a recognition of the reality of constant change. Japanese culture holds transience in much greater esteem than many other cultures. That’s partly why they greet the blossoming of the cherry trees every Spring with such enthusiasm. (if you’re ever in Japan in the Spring you’ll see thousands of people out photographing the cherry blossom and photos of the earliest blossom will appear on the front pages of the national newspapers). To be in touch with the cycles of the seasons and to celebrate the changes between them can bring great pleasure.
A fundamental characteristic of a complex adaptive system (CAS) is that it constantly changes, constantly adapts.
The first two lessons in the Psyblog post are “Invest in intimate ties” and “Embrace society”. Both of these emphasise the importance of engagement – along with adaptation, one of the key characteristics of a healthy CAS.