Happiness. A lovely concept… or is it?
What is happiness? Perhaps for you it is a successful career and a generous 6-figure annual income, or perhaps it is a white-picket-fenced dream with all the spouse-kids-and-dog trimmings, or perhaps a never-ending travelling adventure, or world stardom, or a bottomless stash of your drug of choice, or eternal youth and fitness…
The quest for happiness has become almost epidemic; yes I say epidemic! It is used by corporations and marketers to sell us an infinite string of products which are all – if you believe the hype – going to give us happiness. Does it though? Of course not. At best it will momentarily scratch the itch, but it won’t be long until we resume the ‘happy search’. The way I see it, the concept of happiness as most of us perceive it today could as well have been invented by these same corporations and marketing/advertising companies. Why? Because the pursuit of happiness has become the first and foremost motivator of our consumerist, hedonistic, pillaging society.
Like happiness junkies, we are constantly chasing our next happy fix. The more we buy, use, take or consume – not only in terms of products, but also from other people, relationships and from nature itself – the more we have an apetite for an even bigger fix! “Give me my next buzz of falling in love, or getting that hot guy/chick into bed, or my next dream holiday to get away from it all, or my next win at the money machine”…etc.
The truth is, happiness is a selfish pursuit. It is all about ‘what’s in it for me?’ and ‘how much can I take to make me feel better/happy?”. And this, when it becomes such a primary motive and intention of billions of people each with their own little happy fairy tale scenarios, can become a very destructive way of life. How do you think we came to be in such a dire environmental situation? Because we have been taking and keep taking and taking and taking in order to bolster our comfort and happy little lives. Almost everyone who has contributed to the mess we are in – which is all of us – has done it out of hunting for their definition of happiness. Whether it is becoming a billionaire or having great political power, feeling safe against the threats of nature or eliminating perceived ‘evil ennemies’, it is all about everyone chasing and defending their little piece of the cake.
Am I urging you to give up all your dreams and instead martyr yourself for some vague notion of the greater good? Absolutely not. Instead I am introducing here the idea of refining and realigning our dreams of happiness to be in harmony with the greater good. Yes, it is possible! This necessitates a radical letting go of certain base fears and limiting beliefs, and demands an expansion of the mind to embrace a deeper understanding of what true, lasting happiness is really about.
One foundational hickup in our current concept of happiness is that it infers an inherent lack within us. If you participate into the general obsessive happy hunt, you simply have to believe you lack something which can only be filled by doing or obtaining something or someone outside of yourself. This false happiness is not something you have and can experience as a birthright, or a god-given; it is something you must chase, search and find…for the illusion of a moment. Just like the idea of being born in sin, our chase for happiness has condemned us to feeling deffective right from the beginning and thank you very much! This in itself is a faulty premise.
The second misconception around this notion of happiness is that being happy is a constant, steady, flatline experience: always happy and smiling, never experiencing pain or loss. This is a nice little fluffy dream filled with pink bunnies and candyfloss which has little to do with life and – let’s face it – would be dead boring if experienced for more than five days! Just as light cannot be discerned without darkness, so our joyful moments cannot be discerned without the ecstatic agony of pain and sorrow. The key to transcending this faulty notion of happiness is to let go of the judgment of pain as something ‘bad’; to accept it as part of life and to cherish the wonderful learning and growth that comes from such delightfully and frighfully difficult experiences. Joy and sorrow need to be embraced equally and perhaps this in itself could be subject for another post.
The third faulty foundation is that true, lasting happiness can be obtained by possessing or experiencing something outside of yourself… I am sure you have heard about this one before. Nuff’ said.
In the end, the transformation of faulty happiness into genuine, healthy happiness comes down to asking yourself which part of you seeks a certain happiness: your deepest heart and spirit, or your little fearful, selfish, dysfunctional ego? True, lasting contentment and joy is an experience of the spirit. It is independent from the limitations of space and time or the phenomena of our daily dramas. The little negative ego -which is the sum total of all your fear-based patterns, beliefs and attachments – can only experience imcompleteness and the fruitless race to obtain relief (always momentary) from itself. It does this by triggering ‘happy’ sensations which are nothing but a lovely distraction from the sobering truth that ego/fear cannot transcend itself. Fear is not something you get genuine relief from, it is something you face, feel, acknowledge and let go. Fear is not something you act on, indulge or satisfy, it is something you clear and move beyond.
If you are honest with yourself – and I mean really honest – you will know whether your ‘happy dream’ is about the heart and spirit, or about appeasing the struggles of the little ego self. And please, do enjoy life, fall in love, buy yourself a spanky new car and get the dog that go with your children and white-picket fence. But do it because you choose to, not because you need it to feel better about your life. Embrace your life from a place of love and wholeness and heart-empowerment, not from trying to fill a hole within. Be clear on your motives and intentions, and life will gradually re-orient itself around your choices.
Remember also that this kind of happiness – real and true happiness – is often challenging and stretching because it has your best interest at heart. We live in a benevolent universe and love will encourage you to grow into more of who you truly are. Love is generally not the easy choice, and neither is true joy and contentment. It is not easy because it goes against the grain of your fear and selfish preservation patterns. It seeks to empower you and allow you to find your place in the world. To embrace true happiness, one usually has to let go of false happiness. This means letting go of all the fears and needy attachments that used to drive the search for false happiness.
What happens when you follow the call of the heart, with your courage in both hands as you face and release your fear? The Universe sucks you into place. Spirit guides your choices. What makes your deepest soul’s heart sing just so happens to also be good for the greater good! You don’t need to even know what the greater good is, let Mrs Universe manage all that. All you need to do is make sure you make your spirit happy, not your ego. This happiness is not always full of bouncy squeals, but it is however deeply fulfilling and meaningful. It knows the difference between doing what feels right vs. doing what feels good, and the results are a good feeling that reaches to the root of your being in a way only truth can.
Now, if everyone on the planet lived this way, I believe we would be a far way off from global warming and rampant warfare, the rat-race and growing social unrest. We would all be in the process of falling into place and allowing each of us to be our own unique version of happy.
I say yes!