Happiness, along with love, joy, bliss, peace — are feelings that you really can’t put into words. People get hung up on what they mean. Images that the media presents gets stuck in their minds: people madly in love, lucky men clicking their heals, girls acting silly, etc. But what if it just meant stillness of mind? What if it meant for a split second, you were content? Notice how when you get what you want, you are happy. Then that happiness wears off. In a relatively short amount of time you are in the same place of discontent and left wanting again. Don’t get confused. Happiness is not some hit and run emotion that happens wildly. It’s pretty basic. You are happy because you have embraced what is. You got the car you wanted, at an amazing price, and you aren’t resisting that at all! You embrace it with opens arms! Without a doubt or second thought, you are present to it, fully focused and in the moment. It’s just you fully present with your shiny new car. But then you get old and the car gets old, and you are left wanting again. Distracted by past and future. Feeling scattered and fragmented and no longer fully present. You aren’t embracing what is, you are now resisting it, feeling like another reality would be far better. So, is happiness fleeting? Or is it your thoughts and desires that are fleeting? Some people say being happy all the time isn’t realistic. I would say that thinking that your desires could ever make you happy isn’t realistic.
Quickly, let’s just look into the word Happy. For most of Europe in the 14 century it meant Lucky or Fortunate. In the 1500s the definition evolved to mean Pleased and Content. But from the very beginning, the Welsh had their own definition of the word, for them it meant Wise.
Without painting an extreme picture of happiness (like an ear to ear smile while jumping in the air with glee), let’s look at what it might feel like instead of look like. I’ll just tell you what it’s like for me. When I am in flow, open, fully embracing the moment without resistance, feeling whole and at peace with myself and what is happening — feeling good — feeling like this moment is enough — that is what I feel when I am happy. This can happen while giving a hug, working on artwork, dancing to music that moves me, reading a good book, spending time in nature, and even sitting quietly doing nothing or patiently waiting inline at the post office. It never happens while I’m arguing with someone, hating my environment, or feeling like I’m not enough. It never happens when I am resisting what is happening or wishing for things to be different. Can you see the difference? Can you see the resistance that is usually present when someone is not happy? They are internally at war. Fighting with themselves, fighting with life, fighting with others, fighting with what is. Usually, is not happening openly, more often than not, it’s happening privately, within their own mind.
I’m telling you this from experience. I was horribly depressed from ages 5 – 25. Approximately around the age of 27 there was a turning point, my life began to rapidly change (it’s a long story, I can’t go into here, it would make this blog post way too long). Since that time, I’ve been learning what it means to be happy. What it really feels like to be content (<–key word), and at peace with life. I've learned so much. As a result of it, I love my life, and I adore people. More importantly, I've learned to love myself. I'm so much kinder to myself now. There is no longer a brutal battle in my mind. I have the occasional brain hiccup or bout of discontent, but as the years pass, they because few and far-far between.
Below are 3 steps that you can take towards being more happy.
Step 1: Reexamine your idea of what happiness means. Don't see it as some extreme fleeting state, that only happens to the lucky or the stupidly-silly ones. See it as contentment and presence. And if you don’t have a clear idea of what contentment or presence is, work on that. Practice and study it. You can contact me directly for help (see my contact info in the blog header), or you can simply focus your attention on those words (contentment & presence), and the universe will show you what they mean. That’s usually how it works. “Where your attention goes, it grows.”
Step 2: Pay attention, develop more awareness. Notice yourself. Notice your desires, notice the thoughts in your head, notice how you view other people, notice how your treat yourself. This is really important, because without noticing what you are doing, how could you change it? You’ll always be working on the symptom of the problem instead of the root cause of it.
Step 3: Learn to love & embrace what is. Begin to soften up. This doesn’t mean become a ‘push-over’ or someone weak willed. It means to become more compassionate. Develop flexibility instead of rigidity. Become more spacious, more all encompassing. Practice revealing yourself, sharing yourself, and helping others. Begin to relax into life. Make it your friend. Feel good about it.
In closing, look at real people you know personally (or via the media), that seem happy with life and content. The 14th Dalai Lama seems to embody that. Notice what he is like, and what his life looks like. Unless you catch him laughing, his face looks pretty serious. He doesn’t have unusually happy face or demeanor. He lives a life of few desires (this is a state of mind, anyone can do this). He seems to really listen to people and care. He also helps and works to serve others. It’s a combination of living a self-less life with a strong sense of Self! As paradoxical and ironic as that sounds. It’s deeper than it reads though. I intentionally gave the word Self a capital S. This is to tell you that it is not a strong sense of personhood (strong sense of a physical body attached to a name and story), but a strong sense of being a spiritual being; a spirit infinitely connected to all beings (including the Universe and all that remains unknown) while living through a corporeal form (temporary physical body). If you can do that, be a fully compassionate being, loving & honoring yourself, fully in touch with your body & spirit, serving & sharing with others — how could you not be happy? If at moments you find that you aren’t — notice. Notice where your attention is, and what your thoughts are focused on. Notice if you have been honoring yourself. Notice how genuinely connected you feel to others. If you see some incompleteness there, you’ll see where you need to make some adjustments. Life is process. There is no final destination or stagnant state of being. Life is simply happening. That’s what it does. And it’s happening now, in you. Every moment is an opportunity to see that and to feel fully alive. Everyday is an opportunity to connect with yourself and with the world on a deeper level. Try it. See if it makes for a better more fulfilling life. See if it brings you happiness.