At intelligence level two, the emotional layer, we experience happiness as well being, contentment and joy: the positive feelings that make life enjoyable. But to know happiness only as an emotion means that our delight is temporary, rising and falling with our moods.
After returning to college to finish my Bachelor’s degree, I spent some time in Guilin, China, working on a senior project. Though I love travel and exotic adventures, three weeks of Chinese sights, smells and foods left me longing for home. One night after returning to Hong Kong I spied the Golden Arches down a busy street. My pace quickened as I thrilled at the thought: “A hamburger, an American hamburger.” In Hong Kong, late at night, good old American junk food was the best I was going to get. Fortunately, the menu was spelled out in pictures and both English and Chinese words. I ordered a hamburger, French fries, and a chocolate shake.
As I waited for my fast food (though it couldn’t come fast enough), I remembered eating in our dormitory in Guilin. Our professor at the university, Dr. Wright, was highly esteemed, and as his students we were held in great respect. Our hosts considered us honored guests, and we ate better fare than the Chinese students. There were the constant rounds of rice noodles, soups, different meats and unfamiliar sauces. Often these foods were quite tasty but nevertheless remained a mystery. The webbing of duck’s feet, a delicacy in Guilin, was delicious, but I’m just glad I didn’t know what I was eating until I had finished. (I did manage to avoid the “grilled poisonous snake” in the open street markets.)
Finally, my tray arrived, and I savored the moment. I hadn’t eaten in a McDonald’s in a decade, since I rarely ate beef or fried foods. The burger came with ketchup, and my first bite was heaven. The entire meal was scrumptious. It’s not that the food was even that tasty, or that I was really that hungry. Or even that I wanted to experience just the physical pleasure of eating. It was the return to home, to civilization as I knew it, garish and cheap as only a McDonald’s could be. I loved it. I felt warmly happy and satisfied. But my passing feeling of happiness, sitting in that McDonald’s in Hong Kong, represented merely emotional satisfaction. As fabulous as it was, it was fleeting. It just didn’t last.
Love your way,
Alan Davidson, founder of
and author of Body Brilliance:
Mastering Your Five Vital
Dedicated to our healthy, happy, and prosperous world through the full enlightenment of every human being.
Through Your Body
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Houston, TX 77019