The undisputed truth of life is that all of us are looking for happiness. The successful and the not-so-successful are united in their search for happiness . However the hitch is we don’t quite know what we mean by happiness. So we look for it in the wrong places and in the wrong things. We fall in love and mistake its euphoria to be happiness and often find the so called happening seeping out of our lives when the love sours. We look for it in achievements but no matter what we do we eventually return to the same internal temperature. We seek it through fame, money, marriage, children, family, shopping and so on. But somehow nothing ever lasts. Have you ever wondered why that is?
Happiness is not the temporary high of random moments of achievements. This kind of happiness is transitory because it depends on external factors. It will fade away, perhaps the next day or the next week. We cannot rely on it. Happiness runs deeper and is a permanent state of contentment and well-being. I’ve been told that we can’t find happiness because we have not lost it in the first place. Happiness is who we are. Go within and discover your true self. Now you may ask who this true self is. Hidden deep inside our being, just like the blue sky is hidden by the clouds in the middle of a monsoon, is our true self.
Life is never what it appears to be on the surface. There is much more to life than chatting on social networking sites, shopping in the mall, going for a holiday, completing work projects and taking care of our family and kids. These are important things but don’t constitute all that we are. We are so much more than we think we are and the secret to true happiness is solving the mystery of who we really are. Our search for happiness and our search for our true selves go hand in hand.
If we can cultivate the equanimity to meet each moment exactly as it is, neither wanting to prolong it nor wishing it away, we will get closer to the happiness we really seek. This capacity to experience your feelings no matter how pleasant or unpleasant they maybe, to let them go the moment they are over and immerse yourself in the next moment is really the essence of happiness.
When you reach this stage you are free of external circumstances that may give you a transient sense of happiness. Happiness is the acceptance of unhappiness, of frustration of anger and every other feeling. It is simply deep peace and acceptance. It does not matter what life throws at you. All is welcome. All is acceptable.
And how do we get to this stage of equanimity? This is where discovering your true self comes useful. Our ego is what obscures our real self. Its main characteristics are its ability to jump from the past to the future. We regret the past or are nostalgic for it and we fear the future. Our blossoming personality shrinks and we become increasingly negative and fearful. Awareness will incline us to the next tool, acceptance. The more we accept the less hold it has over us. In this way, bit by bit, liberation is won and we are no longer bound by the fears and insecurities of our past and future. It is then that we buckle down to enjoy the present moment. And in this clear and tranquil state of mind, we see the reflection of our real, true self.
Happiness isn’t a destination. It is a part of the journey of life. Happiness is a way of thinking.
Here are six easy steps to help you along the quest for happiness:
- Take responsibility for your life. We can never be mentally, emotionally or spiritually healthy until we are willing to take responsibility for our own actions, thoughts and emotions. Happiness is discovered in objective truth and in relating to other people. It is discovered in work that uses your talent.
- Learn to control your thoughts. The more a person fills his mind and life with negative thoughts the unhappy he is. Many people waste their entire lives felling controlled by hurt, hatred and jealousy. We can’t always control how we feel but we can control what we choose to think about.
- Learn to be thankful. We can either concentrate on what we don’t have or learn to be thankful for what we do have. If we focus too much on what we don’t have, we are doomed to a life of unhappiness and frustration.
- Censor your desires. People whose aspire-not just for money, but for friends, family, job and health-tend to be less happy. Instead of satisfying our desires we merely crave for more, the list being endless.
- Resilience. All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well being. We often cannot chose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it is not always easy but resilience like many other life skills, can be learned
- Be a part of something bigger. People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. A simple way to describe having ‘meaning’ in your life is that it is about being a part of something that we really believe in that is bigger than ourselves.