What Do I Mean by Happiness?

That the idea that happiness is concurrent with one’s favorite occupation, that this favorite occupation takes place in the swing of the pendulum between thinking and willing, that the formulation of [Steiner’s] answer was taken from the title of Robert Hamerling’s collection of poems, Sinnen und Minnen*, and that this formulation was elevated by Steiner to the basic maxim of the free human being: to live in the love of action and let live in the understanding of other people’s will—all this reveals how a poet’s word can be ennobled and expanded out of a higher consciousness. And who would deny that, fundamentally, most unhappiness has its cause in the fact that one “knows not what to do”—a negation of the polarity of the soul forces of knowing (thinking) and willing.

From Georg Hartmann, Erinnerungen an Rudolf Steiner (Memories of Rudolf Steiner), on Steiner’s answer to a question about his favorite occupation and the idea of happiness. Stuttgart 1979, p. 45.

*Translator’s note: Sinnen and Minnen is best translated as “Musing and Loving,” referring to a way of showing romantic love through senses and song. Minnen comes from “minnesang,” a tradition of lyric- and song-writing in Germany and Austria during the Middle Ages. Minne, the Middle High German word for love, was the subject of minnesang.

Translation Laura Liska
Graphic Sofia Lismont

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