5-13-18 Happiness

Happiness

What is happiness? It seems to be something that we are constantly looking for and never quite reaching, or we are unable to hang on to. The problem with ordinary happiness is that it never lasts, because the objects of happiness don’t last. A happy event is soon followed by a sad one, and shoes wear out. Unfortunately, most of us go through life looking for things to “make us happy.” But our happy “fix” is never permanent, so we keep looking. But being happy is quite possible.

There are two terms that are often used somewhat interchangeably, happiness and joy. It is really not a problem to use one or the other, but to be specific, they are not exactly the same; Happiness refers to a temporary state of mind brought about by something or someone. Joy is a foundation from which we come to experience all of life with wonder and celebration. We feel connected with others and the sacred. Joy is an internal calm, a feeling that despite all the raging storms around us, inside all is well. Joy should be our natural state of being. Unfortunately, we’ve been brought up in a society that emphasizes wanting things and having things as the primary path to happiness. Wanting things actually destroys joy, while having things brings only a short-term burst of pleasure that fades quickly. 

In fact, thinking that happiness depends on things outside of ourselves is a trap. It makes it harder for us to experience real happiness. True happiness comes from our internal attitude and the ability to enjoy but NOT attach to things. The happiness that is a factor of enlightenment is not dependent on objects, but is a state of mind cultivated through mental discipline. Because it is not dependent on an impermanent object, it does not come and go. A person who has cultivated Happiness still feels the effects of transitory emotions — happiness or sadness — but appreciates their impermanence and essential unreality. He or she is not always grasping for wanted things while avoiding unwanted things.

We have tried and tried avoidance techniques. Drugs, alcohol, behaviors that we thought would bring relief. We have poisoned and deluded ourselves until unhappiness became who we were. We now hear that we need to step into that which we have constantly avoided, LIFE. It is not an easy transition to make, but it is more than possible. Many have, and you can too. Work at it a little bit at a time, and don’t keep score. Just keep going, keep growing, relax and laugh at yourself a little more. 

Mostly we are unhappy because we do not believe in ourselves. What would it be like if you did believe in yourself? It is a calming and accepting mindset. Not judgmental or negative. When negativity or doubt arises, we see it and give it a little laugh while we let it go, and feel a sense of happiness seep in.

 We will all have challenges in our life. We can’t expect to just float along feeling good all the time. As we meet our challenges we will experience sorrow, anger, confusion and many emotions.  The joy of life is not in avoiding our emotions, but meeting them and working with them. When we honestly meet and make decisions that are sometimes difficult, we feel the rightness of engaging life as fully and honestly as we can. With all our mistakes and being human, we NEVER stop believing in ourselves. 

We think we know what will make us happy: success, fame, money, beauty, power, or intelligence. All of these attributes are wonderful, but they don’t manifest joy, diminish suffering, or create peace in your life. Medicating our depression, (which most of us are quite familiar with) dissatisfaction, distractions, drama, and diversions are not the answers we seek. We can justify and rationalize the necessity of all these things, but happiness is an inside job.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts. It is made up of our thoughts. If one speaks or acts with an evil or fearful thought, pain follows one, If one speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows one, like a shadow that never leaves. “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” It’s what we do, not what we get, that grows happiness.  The Dalai Lama

If you think you need to wait until this happens or that goes away in order to be happy, you will always be waiting. Start being happy NOW. It’s OK to smile, it changes who you are and how the world looks. Try it next time you are frowning. Give yourself a frown check often.

The best predictor of general life satisfaction was not satisfaction with family life, friendships, or income, but satisfaction with self. Yes, yourself, right now, just as you are. A person who confronts life with an attitude that often says “Yes!” to people and possibilities lives with far more joy and positive ventures in life, than do habitual naysayers. We may be the products of our past, but we are also the architects of our future. Become more optimistic and relaxed. Practice.

We may feel disconnected sometimes, alone and frightened. We may not want to engage with the world, and need to hide. This is when we recognize our choosing to disconnect and then choose to begin connecting again. We are never disconnected, we only choose to withdraw. Sometimes we do need time alone or a break. That is healthy, but we need to feel when we are disconnecting and make the effort to consider, that what we bring to the world is important. When what we bring to the world is good, healthy, and promoting happiness, that is more important than any fleeting happiness we pursue for ourselves. It is a lifestyle, a spiritual path and a wonderful fullness of life we bring and experience. We can only have that experience when we bring it to others.

Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use. Lighten up.

The happiest people are not those that have the most, but are the ones that need the least, and give to others what is most important.

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time.                                                                                                                                     The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.                                                                                                           The great arises out of small joys that are honored and cared for.                                                                                   Heart Of Recovery web site    fcheartofrecovery.com