Monday, January 11, 2010

Thought Provoking Linguistic Technicalities

In french they have two ways to say "I am happy," je suis contente and je suis heureuse (for a female). More often than not they use the first version but if you translate it back the other way its more equivalent to "pleased, glad, or content". Since when do english people ever say I am content?

The best explanation i could get, when i questioned some native french speakers about it, is that "content" refers to a general moderate state of joy or happiness, whereas "heureux" refers to periodic bliss or supreme and overwhelming gladness. Unfortunately this second one doesn't seem to last as long as the first. I guess its like the difference between joy and euphoria. But words give meaning and shape to our experiences, and it seems sad that happiness (at least in french) can't last. Maybe thats why they have such high levels of antidepressants in their country.

Why can't we be happy for ever?

and if happiness is to be found in this life, "men are that they might have joy" and all that, where do we go to find it?

I knew a lady in switzerland, she used to give us lunch once a week, but every time we went there it was the same thing - sort of like weekly repeats "Groundhog day". We (les Soeurs) would ask her how she was and she would launch into a diatribe about how awful the world was, especially according to the media and how could anybody be happy in the world. We would attempt to calm and reassure her, but it never seemed to work, because the next week she would be all ready to launch the latest news stories she had heard over the 7 days. She accused either us or the scriptures of lying, I was never entirely sure which, about being here to have joy.

It was quite disturbing listening to her rant and rave sometimes, and i wished i could find an answer that would help her, but i left that little village and it was months later that i found an answer to her souci (concern), or at least one that satisfied me.

Men are that they might have joy.
In 3rd nephi in the book of Mormon, Jesus tells the people that his joy is full. This is the same "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" that isaiah talks about in the bible. So i wonder if, the fact of the matter is that Jesus never found a fulness of joy in this life - and neither will we. His joy came after his life, death and resurrection. So maybe ours will too.

My dad told me once that when we feel joy in ourselves over a good decision that we've made (at the time he was specifically referring to an experience i had when i decided to go on a mission), its because God allows us to feel a portion of that joy that he experiences, over the good decision that we've made. I really like that idea, even though i don't know if its true.

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