No matter what context happiness is experienced through, self-appreciation always lies at its base. Search the meaning in any happy feelings you’ve ever had and you will find a sanction of the value of your ownbeing. This is natural and right. Happiness often seems to come from the outside, but it never does. The smile of a spouse, a solution to a problem, a raise in salary—is all existential data which must first pass through our senses, so our interpretations of meaning are alone responsible. Happiness is gained through our interrelation with ourselves, with nature and with others, generated by the soundness of what we view as important in life.

For example, experiencing pleasure from watching children or animals play can give you a sense of happiness, but the source of that happiness is the identification of what you regard as virtue. In this case, it is the recognition of your capacity to appreciate that special sense of existence children have; in their fearless awareness of the world and of people, in their innocent gaiety and the boundless certainty they display in the confident motion of their bodies, as beings who have not learned the imprisoning patterns of self-doubt (and maybe you can silently reflect on what has been wrongly lost in adulthood). Who hasn’t been victim of the blatant staring of a two-year old in a restaurant and lived to tell about it? One level beyond attributes of character, the reasons we enjoy children, as in our own pursuits, affirm the efficacy of Man’s senses (and their integrator, the mind) which leadto the fostering and preservation of life and its enjoyment. The anticipatory awareness of their wide eyes, eager to see, looking for the source of every unique sound they hear, their questioning expressions, open or retracted to the scents of the world—good and bad! Their able little bodies reaching to the sun, exploring, learning, endlessly invigorated by every new discovery awaiting them around all of life’s corners—these are the pleasures of sensate perception and integration.

With animals playing, you get to see your appreciation and respect for social joviality, beings enjoying their coexistence, where the crucial problems of life have been solved, and one has earned the right to feel truly light, playful and open. If you look closely, happiness revolves around only two facets: your own confirmation, appreciation and respect for the pathways that lead to life; (1) its sustenance, and (2) its enjoyment. It is your awareness that what youpersonally value, generates a positive physical and spiritual bounty—a life pattern—and it follows that by witnessing its proof, you have validated and sanctioned your own reasoning power; a moral validation—and therefore have gracefully earned self-esteem.