7-7-19 Happiness


What is happiness? It seems to be something we’re constantly seeking and never quite attaining, or that we’re unable to hang on to. The problem with ordinary happiness is that it can’t last, because the objects of happiness don’t last. A happy event is soon followed by a sad one. New toys lose our interest.  Things wear out and break.  Unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others lead to disappointments. Unfortunately, most of us go through life looking for things to “make us happy.” But our happy “fix” is never permanent, so we keep searching. Happily, though, 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 (as I have in this reading), 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 of wonder and celebration from which we come to experience all of life. Joy is when we feel connected with others and the sacred. It’s an internal calm, a feeling that despite all the raging storms around us, inside all is well. Joy is 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. Our society encourages us to force our way to get what we want, or to avoid being authentic because of fear of others. Wanting things actually destroys joy, while attaining wanted things brings only a short-term burst of pleasure that fades quickly. 

True joy comes from our internal attitude and the ability to enjoy but not attach to things.
Joy is not dependent on objects, obtaining, or avoidance, 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 joy 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 and grasping 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 had avoided…LIFE. It’s 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.

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 step into life and welcome what may come because we CAN handle it.

In meditation, we begin feeling the space between thoughts. This is where we begin to open into our natural stability, clarity, and strength. When we are not thinking about what happened in the past, or what we are projecting into the future, we can simply and fully be with the rightness of the moment.  We can enjoy the contentment and worthiness of simply being. We actually make better decisions when we are not involved in grasping after or avoiding something. We feel the joy of our intuition and wisdom.

We have meditation, mindfulness-awareness practices and contemplations we can begin to bring into our lives which can replace our graspings and avoidance techniques. But we have to look honestly at ourselves, admit when we are engaging in fear or negativity, and be brave enough to drop our fears and step authentically into life.

We will all have challenges in our lives. 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 other emotions.  The joy of life is not in avoiding our emotions, but in meeting them and working with them. 

HOW we view things is most important! The world may be in some chaos, our friends or family may be going through a difficult time, we may not be getting what we hoped or planned for. We can see and voice justifiable resentment or judgement, or we can be fully aware of what is occurring, feel compassion, but not let it define or overwhelm us. If we begin to feel frustrated and negative, we can wallow in that, or we can choose to acknowledge and appreciate all that is going on, and bring as much kindness and patience as possible into play. There is more than enough negativity to go around already. How can each of us bring something that will be helpful, not just more fuel for the fire? Which wolf do we feed?

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. If [we] speak or act with an evil thought, suffering follows [us] as the wheel follows the hoof of the beast that draws the wagon.  If [we] speak or act with a good thought, happiness follows [us] like a shadow that never leaves [us].”  —Buddha

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” –The Dalai Lama

It’s what we do, not what we get, that grows happiness.  

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 let go andto begin believing in yourself, which will let you relax all those requirements you think you need to meet in order to be happy.

The best predictor of general life satisfaction is not satisfaction with family life, friendships, or income, but satisfaction with self.Yes, yourself, right now, just as you are.  Someone who meets life with an attitude that often says “Yes!” to people and possibilities will live with far greater joy and positive outcome than will a habitual naysayer. We say yes to life as much as possible, while still maintaining a healthy balance.  We don’t want to say yes so much we become overwhelmed, or neglect our basic needs in order to cater to others. 

When what we bring to the world is good, healthy, and promotes happiness, that is more important than any fleeting pleasure we could pursue for ourselves. It is a lifestyle, a spiritual path, and a wonderful fullness of life we experience and can bring to others.

We may be the products of our past, but we are also the architects of our future. Become more optimistic and easygoing. Practice.

The happiest people are not those who have the most, but are the ones who 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