I am no expert on happiness. I’ve often found it elusive, cropping up when and where I least expect it and disappearing just as quickly. I’m not alone—a Harris Poll conducted in 2013 found that only 33 percent of Americans reported being very happy, while those on the bottom third of the spectrum report feeling dissatisfied with their lives. Scientists have spent the better part of five decades studying the causes, patterns, manifestations, and expressions of happiness, and in that time, they’ve been able to come to a general consensus of what makes us truly happy. In a series of posts, I’ll use the beautiful wisdom of tarot to reveal these findings, and hopefully, make the goal of happiness a little less elusive for all of us.
RELATIONSHIPS AND COMMUNITY
Almost every study ever done on happiness has come, at least in part, to this conclusion: happiness is largely contingent upon having positive, meaningful relationships with others. Dr. Christine Carter, a sociologist and fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, claims that “the quantity and quality of a person’s social connections—friendships, relationships with family members, closeness to neighbors, etc.—is so closely related to well-being and personal happiness the two can practically be equated”.
There are thirteen cards in the RWS tarot that reflect the importance of nurturing our relationships and engaging with the world at large. The cards reflect (to yours truly, anyway) five virtues that build and sustain relationships: charity, cooperation, celebration, dedication, and integration. The first of these is the lynchpin, the wellspring from which compassion and empathy flow, the very action that makes true community possible.
The young boy of the six of cups has dedicated all of his efforts to making the seeds of compassion blossom into beautiful flowers. Being white, the blooms reflect the purity of his intentions. As he peacefully offers this gift to the young girl, he seeks nothing in return. His action illustrates the very essence of what we consider laudable—the gift of self in the service of others. We’re so often driven by the carnal force of selfishness, and so often our most selfish actions breed hostility, discord, emptiness, and dissatisfaction. This boy has realized the paradoxical truth that the only way to achieve fulfillment is to give wholly of oneself. He challenges us to see beyond the wants and desires of our egos so we may feed the universal force of Consciousness.
Challenge: Give something of great value to yourself to others. Whether it’s donating your time and effort to a community project or simply giving your last cigarette to a fellow or lady who asks (perhaps not the healthiest gift, but an immensely charitable one if you’re a slave to the addiction), any small act of charity challenges your concept of what it is that you actually need. A smile given in gratitude adds fuel to the light in your soul, and each successive act of charity grows the light until it becomes your dominant force.