Are you happy?
I was hoping that one day I would be happy…
(Click play on the player below to have us read this lesson to you.)
There seems to be a constant search for happiness. We make great sacrifices in hope that the future will reward us with it. Often, however, either the things we require to be happy don’t arrive or, if they do, they turn out to be just okay. So how do we become happy? Can we even be happy? In this lesson, we talk about the keys to discovering happiness and how to stop the endless treadmill of striving for it.
What is happiness?
Happiness can be a choice. We can choose to be happy even when life serves up disappointments. Happiness can suddenly arise during favourable conditions or during moments of gratitude. If we take a closer look at happiness, it’s not just an emotion: it can be a state of mind. And just like any other state of mind or emotion, we can choose to embrace it or set it down. It’s also very subjective to personal preference: what makes one person happy could make another angry.
Do we need to be happy?
Can it really be this simple? If happiness is just a state of mind that we can choose, do we really need to be happy? My answer would be yes and no. Feeling good is healthy and normal, but needing to feel good all the time is not balanced. There are times when happiness is out of context with a situation. For example, if someone is sharing something that makes them feel vulnerable, kindness and compassion would be appropriate responses, rather than happiness. To experience balance, we need to have access to all our emotions. Being able to exercise all the different emotions freely is a form of wisdom.
In the mind, happiness is a reward we are seeking. Happiness holds great promise of a future that is brighter than what we are currently experiencing. When this happens, it becomes the object of our affection, because of what it represents. Happiness can become a thing that we fantasize about to escape our current reality. Ask yourself this: “How many times have I promised myself happiness if I obtain a goal I’m working toward?” When we experience more imagined happiness than actual happiness, this can be a sign that our need for happiness has crossed the threshold of what’s healthy. We may be trapped in desire.
We don’t need to be happy all the time. What enforces this mistaken belief is our unhealthy attachment to our desires. We think that the fulfilment of our desires will bring us happiness. This is simply not true.
Happiness versus being desire-less
Being happy is great; however, it’s not nearly as great as finding peace. When we compare happiness to peace, we are not comparing apples to apples. Peace is in a much different league than happiness. This is because of the nature of peace versus the nature of happiness. At best, happiness is fleeting, whereas peace is a solid and stable reality that we can live in. Happiness is found in the mind, which in turn can create a feeling in the body. Peace, on the other hand, is a state of consciousness that we can embrace. What places us on the path to peace is becoming desire-less.
During the fulfilment of a desire, you swiftly exit the grasp that desire has over you, causing a sense of relief and euphoria. The trouble is, within hours, minutes, or even seconds, your mind can creep back in with another desire that is required to keep you satisfied. The experience of fulfilling your desires only leaves you wanting and needing more. By chasing your desires, you waste precious energy and resources that could be applied more purposefully. The mind is very accustomed to wanting. When you give in repeatedly to the wants of the mind, over time your wants become your needs. You transform your simple and unnecessary wants into full-fledged habits. This can lead you to believe your happiness lives outside you, within the objects you desire.
Finding balance with the fulfilment of your desires helps you keep a healthy relationship with your mind. It also frees you of the grasp it can have on your life. The peace you experience through desire pales in comparison to the peace you receive from surrendering your desires and just resting deeper within yourself. Deep surrender gives what your desires can only promise. Simply knowing this is not enough, though: you must put it into practice. As you practice the act of letting go of your desires and your need to be happy, be willing to keep surrendering until your desires no longer pull your attention.
Letting go of your desires opens a space in you that is suitable for the gift of peace to arise in.
Living without your desires is a powerful position to be in. It has the power to deliver you into the arms of peace. The bondage of your desires may be more restrictive that you are aware of. Often, it’s not until you have given up a desire that you realize the investment you had in it.
Not all desires are bad for you, of course, and it’s okay to be happy. In the right context, happiness and desires can be great motivators. For example, sometimes having a desire can be just the right push you need. It can serve as a source of inspiration to never give up. When you’re faced with a burning desire, ask yourself, “Does the fulfilment of this desire come at a cost to me or to another?” Also ask yourself, “Am I willing to sacrifice what it takes to fulfil this desire?” At what cost does your happiness come? The goal of being happy sometimes blinds us to the grief caused by trying to obtain it.
Making the choice to be happy
It certainly doesn’t hurt to bring more happiness to your life. This happens with greater ease when you let go of your need to control and begin to accept things as they are. I’m not suggesting, however, that being passive is a path to happiness. Allowing balance and flexibility to live comfortably in our life leads us to our happiness. Try to find what’s good and positive in your grievances. In the middle of a complaint, let it go and choose the position of happiness. You might just discover that this is the the secret to peace: being willing to rest in it always.
Happiness is a state of mind or an emotion we can choose, but in the end, it may not be the thing that delivers us the peace that we are really striving for. Real peace is found within us; it’s not something we can obtain or strive for. It’s something that we surrender to within ourselves.
Happiness is born out of your mind, whereas peace comes from your soul
Eight steps to bring this lesson into your life:
- What does happiness mean to you?
- If you obtain the things you want, will they bring you peace or cause you grief?
- Do you experience more imagined happiness than actual happiness?
- How much time do you spend working toward your peace?
- Plan how you’re going to bring more peace into your life.
- Start making the choice to embrace being happy by letting go of your need for things to be different than they are.
- Practice letting go of your position when you have a grievance.
- Practice resting your attention on the most peaceful and quiet space inside your heart.
Please note: Always use your own discretion. Any advice you find on UMatter is our opinion. It may or may not work for you. We are not responsible for the choices you make or the result of your choices.