Turkish Tuesdays, Happiness vs. Meaning, and Health vs. Home?

         When I lived in Izmir, a neighbor asked me one day:

Doydun yerin nerede?


Literally, this means, where is your full place

   She was asking me where is the place that makes me feel full, or happy.

   What I could not explain to her then, back in 2005, which some blogging friends have recently reminded me to point out, is that contentment, far more than happiness, is a stable emotion, rather than a fleeting feeling based on dopamine or serotonin, and it requires a larger context.  That context is built out of a life that renders service.  A life, for me, that builds tools and leaves a scaffolding upon which others may continue to build, to create the equitable world that would be safe, kind, and respectful of the dignity and potential of every human being born into this world, is a happy one.  

The common good, or the general welfare, in the United States, tends to presume that “the pursuit of happiness” is the good and the goal of life.  Yet those of us descended from enslaved people know that our ancestors, and often ourselves, as well, have not been free to follow that pursuit, and thus have been forced to define happiness in a different way.

True it is, that happiness is a part of one’s overall health.  But it requires having a safe home, first.  Access to affordable and comprehensive health care is also a major part of it: freedom from the stress of knowing that one illness can set back all of your life’s savings, or that one accident can deprive you of a livelihood.  Knowing just how precarious this health and access to health care is, especially for people who have no family or community to protect and/or take care of them, can be a major brake on a person’s moment to moment, not to mention overall, happiness.  That is in spite of, and separate from, the satisfaction or contentment that one may derive from seeing the works of her hands accomplish good things.  Even one who has stood in that small and fearful gap, in harms way for another, one who has brought hope to another at a moment when years had passed without greeting, even such a one may feel content with those works, yet aspire to rejoice at the happiness of others, when others are safe.  Is this happiness, for that one person? 

The happiness of one individual must be viewed, for me, in the wider context of each and every person’s ability to have every need met.  The reason is that if I go to some other part of the world, my own safety is compromised, based on a variety of factors that have nothing to do with my desire to help others, and everything to do with my appearance, origins, and connections.  That situation is neither equitable, nor safe, for anyone.  Ignoring these unpleasant truths will not make them go away, and focusing on one small part of the world that appears positive, while ignoring most of the pain, will never solve our collective problem.  Yet we have it within our power, collectively, to change the situation.  We have the technology, the resources, and the strategic ability to build a system that can allow every human being to reach full creative potential.  If we each choose to have a life of meaning, building for the entirety of humanity, over a lifetime of our pursuit of the fleeting happiness of a moment, we can leave a safer, kinder world where each individual is actually listened to, actually respected for the pebble of meaning that that person brings to help build the rising edifice, and leaves as part of the scaffolding.  We can each have, and also help others, to have a life of lasting meaning, if we want to.

The question is do we want to?

And more importantly, how can we help build a world where no one has to fear living in the street?

Action Items:

1.) Search for two different sources related to happiness versus meaning.

2.) Share the context of those sources, and what you think of them, with us in the comments, here, please.

3.) Share your thoughts on how any ordinary person might help build a better world system, and thus be part of building a world where every person can be full.

4.) Write a book, blog post or tweet that uses those thoughts.

Dear Readers, what ideas do you have on learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning, on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness,  #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind? 



Click here to read, if you like:

B5, La Casa De Papel/Money Heist, & Lupin & Hakan: Muhafiz/The Protector Reviews

Holistic High School Lessons,

Thoughtful Readers, if you are on Twitter, please consider following   #Project Do Better  on Twitter.


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26 thoughts on “Turkish Tuesdays, Happiness vs. Meaning, and Health vs. Home?

  1. One of the many things that puzzles me about people who argue that health care is a privilege, not a right, is that it runs so contrary to the supposedly inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Exactly, but then so many of the beautiful ideas written in the US founding documents are contradicted by actions, from that time to this. I was shocked, for instance, to read that Massachusetts outlawed slavery in it’s state constitution in 1787, upon adopting the federal constitution and going from colony to state, yet the de facto treatment of negroes in Boston has never been as of men who “are created equal.” Much less across the South.
      What we down here are not taught is that our republic was founded by aristocrats who were, even Benjamin Franklin, afraid of the masses, and thus did not want an equal franchise, but wanted it to look that way: hence the Electoral College. Rather than ensuring proper education for all, various classes were used as buffer zones to one another, and both racism and segregation were encouraged, both up north and down south before and after the abolition of slavery, which was the huge white elephant in the room at the time of the American Revolution, and remains so (especially the idea of reparations of any kind) today.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. Yes, but also, maybe, potential. Just having had the … to put those words on paper, especially Jefferson, derided for his ‘love’ of “Black Sal,” must have felt like a fish out of water, trapped between his position and his desires. I do believe that he loved Sally Hemings, yet she remained a slave all her life, and their children were never freed legally, if I recall correctly: he managed to get the state legislature to allow him to free one Hemings, but I forget which one it was. So the entire system, even as Jefferson wrote in his “Notes on the State of Virginia,” does indeed degrade both slaveholder and enslaved person. Perhaps he, of all people, understood that best of all.

          Liked by 4 people

            1. I thought the Jefferson family had finally ack’d Sally’s kids as his kids, but monticello.org doesn’t make it too clear, yet. Annette Gordon Reed’s book The Hemings: Story of an American Family examines it all inn great detail.

              Liked by 4 people

            2. 🙂
              (I must admit that her book really stunned me, as did the reactions to certain parts of her book: it was absolutely even-handed, despite a few reviewers who stopped reading it at a certain point, when she posed a certain question…) -her book was more even-handed, I think, than I would have been able to be.
              That got me thinking about how Thomas Jefferson must have felt. She was much more sympathetic than I think I could have been toward him, but then, I may very well be one of Sally’s descendants, and the constant battles with my mother over the nature of that relationship may have skewed my own perceptions…)

              Liked by 3 people

            3. Likewise. I don’t begrudge anyone other formats, but I find text to be far easier to work with, given the smaller bandwidth requirements, greater compressibility, and ease of citing sources and ability to copy and paste into a search engine to follow up. It bothers me that the videos I have seen have not often seemed to cite sources that could be followed up on or tracked back to primary source material.

              Liked by 2 people

            4. Yes, clearly citing sources is much easier with text. I used APA referencing in school, but now that I write entirely online, I don’t usually bother because it’s so easy to hyperlink.

              Liked by 1 person

            5. Yes: I do like hyperlinks, and I love the ability to add mouse-over text, though I do wish the visual editor had a place for it, as it can be a bit annoying to have to hunt through the html to add the title tag.

              Liked by 2 people

  2. I love this! “Where is your full place?”

    It’s true. I have come to realise the pursuit of happiness is fleeting too, no doubt the experience of the pursuit is crucial. Contentment is foundational to a life well-lived yet. Perhaps contentment with gratitude will be a good pairing to have!

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Hmmm, well, for me,

          contentment is more a feeling of being satisfied that I am doing the most that I can do with the resources that I have, and that in that work, I am being useful.

          Gratitude, however, for me, is simply being aware of the fact that I have enough resources to live, like hot running water, and stable electricity. I have lived without both, and so I am grateful for these resources that allow me to work more efficiently to get to a place of contentment.

          Does that make sense?

          Liked by 2 people

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