Most people “look for” happiness. I mean really look for it. You google for it on the internet, you seek it in money and material possessions, you try out drugs, hairstyles and partners just to make sure it is not hiding there, and you will throw your last penny after long haired solutions that promise to make you happy. Then, once you realize that it didn’t work. you pick yourself up and start looking for it all over again. Why do we struggle so much to find happiness? And why do we so often find misery instead in our quest to be happy? The answer lies in the age old cliche of the person looking for his reading glasses all over the place while they are perched on his head all the time.
The laws of intent, manifestation and attention explain that what we “tend to” tends to manifest itself. Is it possible that our search for happiness is really an excuse to rationalize our circumstances, that our search for happiness is ultimately really a search for misery? I say this from personal experience after having spent a third of my life searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in all its reported haunts, from drugs to sex, wealth to asceticism and from self help books to helping others. It was only when I woke up to the fact that joy, contentment, peace and meaning were not somewhere out there for me to discover, but were right here within me, in the present, that I understood that the first step in being happy was to stop pursuing it.
Happiness is natural
If you can strip your thinking of all that your life has burdened you with, the beliefs, the expectations, and the judgements, and just look at yourself as you were born, as you were created, you will be able to see the joyous celebration that your existence truly is. Whether you are a giggling teenager, a blushing newlywed or a cackling grandmother, your natural state of being is one of happiness. In many senses, each one of us were conceived at the moment when our parents were experiencing one of the greatest earthly joys known. Your entire journey has been centered around contentment, protection and abundance. Our natural state of being does not understand unhappiness beyond physical want and discomfort. It is only social conditioning that teaches us to be unhappy and critical. Look within and tap into the natural state of happiness that is yours by default. Try it now. Smile. See?
Happiness is appreciation
If you were asked to sensibly list out what would make you happy, your list would broadly contain two kinds of items. The first is a set of events and circumstances that are external to you, out of your control and perhaps in the past, that you wish could be changed. The other will be a set of things, people or circumstances that are not there in your life but you wish were there. This is how it is with most people, “we look before and after, and pine for what is not.” The truly happy person does not have a wishlist on which his happiness depends, since he is too busy enjoying himself with what life has to offer him.
Pining for “what is not” is just another way of not being thankful for what is, for not appreciating the gifts that you are blessed with. Even in the most challenging of circumstances, you are abundantly and most appropriately provided for. If you are down in the dumps and nothing seems to be going right for you, look at your determination and willingness to try harder, to not give in, and appreciate it, for without this gift, you would have been lost forever. Look at your life now, and mentally list out all you have to be appreciative of. As you try to put a happiness value to each of the gifts that you have, you will see that they are far more important than you had ever imagined.
Happiness is the journey
Most self help gurus and even spiritual thought leaders describe happiness as the result of aligning yourself with principles of right living. They make it out to be some sort of a prize you get because you did things the right way. As a result, most people miss out on the beauty of life, which lies in living. Happiness is not a result, but is right living itself. The act of doing things in accordance with universal principles of compassion, fairness, and love is in itself happiness. This is where happiness and joy differ from gratification and pleasure. Gratification and pleasure are the result of doing something.
In my case, I spent years reading up on books, listening to lectures, and practicing breath control and body contortions that promised to make me happy. At the end of the journey, I was left with a brain full of information, I would even call it knowledge, but I had missed out on the joy of this journey of discovery. In my obsession with equipping myself to “possess” the happiness that this beautiful journey promised as its destination, I had ignored the richness of my evolution.
Each of us are exactly where we need to be in our journey at this point in time. Look at where you are in your journey right now. As you start to see that if you needed to be anywhere else, you would, and that if you are not where you think you wanted to be, it is only because you are not ready as yet, allow your face to break into a smile.
Happiness is harmony
All through my school days, I longed to grow up so that I would not have to study and be told what to do. As I grew up and became independent, started working and setting up home, I longed for my carefree days as a child. As I struggled to find material success, I longed for financial freedom. Once I found financial freedom, I longed for the lightness of asceticism. One of my favorite “poems” was shared with me by Frank Vaz, a personal transformation facilitator who I am indebted to. It went - Man is a fool, when it is hot, he wants it cool; when its cool, he wants it hot; he always wants what is not. It sounded cool and true when he shared it with me many years back, and as I have grown over the decades as a person, so has its relevance and meaning.
As with good and evil, darkness and illumination, male and female, the experience of life is one of harmony between the desirable and the repulsive. Neither can exist without the other, and their desirability and repulsiveness is determined only by your interpretation. When you realize that all entities around you are ultimately a harmonious balance of opposites, that the heights of godliness and the depths of depravity are contained within each one of us, you will find it easier to let go of your revulsions, fears and judgements. When you see that all that stands between you and true happiness is your self - your interpretations and expectations, you will be able to step aside and let the light of understanding flood your being. This is not a rejection of your revulsions, fears, and judgements, but just an acknowledgement that moves them out of the way of the light of the truth. After all, your misery is for you to keep, isn’t it?
Happiness is our natural birthright, but we often get confused about what it truly means. Happiness is not a life without struggle or a state in which nothing undesirable happens. It is the ability to see the wholeness of things, to accept humbly that which instructs us through pain and to respond to the call of life to participate in it. It is in the ability to cleanse your perception so that you see with your heart, the ability to follow your heart even when it might seem that you will be the only one on your journey, and the ability to be grateful even at times of great adversity. Happiness is being a student, a teacher, a mate, a child, a lover and a parent, and honoring the multitudes that we are all made of. If you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I have enjoyed writing it, it is time you got back to the party. Have a great life!
Regular visitors might be wondering about the style of this post. It is the result of a writing exercise I undertook to try and imitate some of my blogging role models. If you cannot guess who I was trying to imitate, it is only proof of my poor craftsmanship in the shadow of greatness.