4-2-23 Happiness


What is happiness? It seems to be something we’re constantly seeking and never quite attaining, or that we can’t 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. People get sick and die. Unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others lead to disappointments. Unfortunately, most of us go through life looking for things, circumstances or others, 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, but 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 a large part of 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.

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. Believing in ourselves does not mean we force our way, or are judgmental and self righteous. It is a calm and kind state.

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 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.

Being in the NOW requires we have an awareness of our mental state, and a mindfulness to drop all the manipulations that we have used, to not maintain our intrusive thought pattern, but be aware of the underlying problem. We think about ourselves too much. Any life stressor can bring thoughts of how to avoid or control a situation. This is when we need to recognize the rabbit hole and bring ourselves back to, Ok what is really happening, I can deal with it, and what do I need to do, and DO it. Or know it needs to be acknowledged and let go of, not constantly replaying what already is. This takes a practice of awareness and a desire for happiness, not a constant acceptance of dissatisfaction. Don’t use your “reasoning” mind, let it go. Be happy NOW.

Control your mind or it will control you. Be fully present for whatever you are doing. Let your mindfulness replace the need to get something done and hurry to get onto the next thing, all the while letting your mind whirl around so you are never fully engaged in any task. You will be missing life if you speed through it. Slow down and pay attention. Things will open up to you that you haven’t experienced before. It’s what we do, and HOW we have done it, not what we get, that grows happiness.

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, the good things too, 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?

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”-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 let go andto begin believing in yourself now, 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
outcomes than will a habitual naysayer. We don’t want to say yes so much we become overwhelmed, or neglect our basic needs in order to cater to others. It is a lifestyle, a spiritual path, and a wonderful fullness of life we can experience and 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 things that are honored and cared for
May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace.

Heart Of Recovery web site  — fcheartofrecovery.com