I believe that happiness is directly related to how we get along with people; especially in our close relationships. Forty years ago I read Thomas Harris’ I’m OK, You’re OK and tried to follow his thinking.
His basic idea is: we behave these four ways when we interact with people.
1. I’m Not OK, You’re OK
2. I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK
3. I’m OK, You’re Not OK
4. I’m OK, You’re OK
Number four is ideal, hence Harris’ title. We all can recall interactions which fall into each one. Two and three are the most destructive, and they are almost always used to justify war and violence in any degree.
How do we get to, “I’m OK, You’re OK? How do we act when confronted with someone who clearly thinks we are not OK?
Go to the place in our mind where we are eternally OK: which is; being with God in Heaven. Then view the other person as also being on that level’ Project that concept, not only to anyone who sees us as “Not OK,” but to everyone we interact with.
Dan Haybron in the November 30, 2013 on-line Salon article, This is What Happiness Looks Like, examined happiness. (excerpted from his book. “Happiness: A very short introduction,” Oxford University Press, 2013)
He thinks of happiness,
as a kind of emotional evaluation of … life, basic …responses concerning… safety and security, letting … defenses down, [being], …fully at home in … life, as opposed to taking up a defensive stance. He calls this, “a state of attunement with life.” As for a response to a difficult situation: ask, is it worth it to continue or to let it go? Finally, some feelings can be supportive, signifying that we can be happy, but not all feelings do that.
Compared to Hayborn’s complicated definition I believe that happiness depends simply on a mutual non-judgmental relationship: Harris’ number four, I’m OK, You’re OK.
In Chapter 22 of the Text, Salvation and the Holy Relationship the course defines and fully discusses a Holy Relationship. The following sentences from the Introduction suffice to present the core of the concept.
… an unholy relationship is based on differences, where each one thinks the other has what he has not. [my emphasis]
In the next paragraph the opposite is outlined.
A holy relationship starts from a different premise. Each one has looked within and seen no lack. Accepting his completion, he would extend it by joining with another, whole as himself. He sees no difference between these selves, for differences are only of the body. Therefore, he looks on nothing he would take. [T-22.in.3.1-4]
The British movie, “Secrets and Lies,” dramatizes a family relationship teeming with lies and secrets. It involves a lower class white East End Mum, her two out of wedlock daughters; one who is white she brought up with her brother’s help, a mixed race daughter she abandoned at birth which she and her brother and his wife kept secret. They reconcile their relationships after tumultuous scenes in which they reveal their secrets and lies.
The final scene is set in the tiny walled-in back “garden” of the Mum’s East End walk-up row house with the two half-sisters chatting about their new relationship. When Mum brings them ‘Tea” they all quietly settle down on rickety deck chairs.
Sipping her white wine Mum mummers quietly, “This’s the life innit?” [sic]
This story shows how mutual acceptance in relationships shapes happiness. It trumps anything else which we think we need for happiness; money, security, self-worth and self-satisfaction, or anything on Dan Haybron’s list about happiness.