So much has been written lately about happiness. Numerous books, guides, articles that promise us steps, tips and formulas that will “make us happy”.
Yet according to a worldwide happiness survey most North Americans and Europeans report not to be overly happy ;(
So what the heck is going on? Where are we falling short? Is it possible to be truly happy or are we dreaming if something out of our reach?
Let me begin with a story…
Few years ago I thought I had it all. I worked my butt off to get everything I believed would make me happy. I was married, had a profitable business, lived in a “dream” home, drove the “dream” car and took frequent vacations. I accomplished what I believed was the “american dream” and got the approval of others, often hearing comments about how “lucky” I was and that I “made it”.
Yet inside me there was a lot of sorrow. I wasn’t laughing, actually I was rarely even smiling. Many times I would ask myself “what’s wrong with you?” “why aren’t you happy?” “what else do you need?”
One day my “dream” world collapsed. In a matter of days I lost it all. Well at least I thought I did. First, I saw that situation as a complete failure and disaster. After few months of feeling sorry for myself I was ready to rebuild. This time with a different set of rules and values that wouldn’t disappear, I wanted to create unshakable happiness.
I didn’t know how yet, but the deep voice inside was telling me to look within.
The ancient Hindu texts are a wonderful source to find answers to many of our “problems”. In one of the yoga sutras we learn that:
“Our desire for pleasure and happiness makes us unhappy.”
Let’s examine this statement.
Whenever you feel miserable or unhappy, behind that layer is the need for happiness. Do you get this?
Let me rephrase it. Craving happiness brings misery. Whenever you don’t crave happiness here it is…You are happy!
Whenever you crave happiness you also invite misery.
So happiness is just an idea in our mind. We think that if we have “this” we will be happy. When we get “that” and are we really happy? How long does that feeling last? One week ? Few days? Hours? Definitely not what we were hoping for right?
Vairagya – means putting a STOP to this constant craving for happiness.
And NO, it doesn’t mean that we become miserable instead. It also doesn’t mean that we should stop enjoying things, but the craving for joy – that’s where we suffer.
What is it that we are really craving?
We often think that “once I have the house (car, job, partner,…), then I’ll be happy”.
Really? Will you? For how long?
All these are object of senses – things you can see, touch, taste, hear or smell and they all have limitations. The challenge is that our mind is not happy with limitations. Our mind craves unlimited joy and unlimited pleasure. Something that our five senses cannot deliver. Believe me it’s an impossible mission. There is always going to be craving for more, bigger, better, faster, shiner…And whenever we chase this type of fulfillment we just get burned down -over and over again.
What is the answer then? Well first we have to see this, recognize it and become aware of it on some level. Then we have a choice, we can start to slowly let go, allow it to dissolve. All the things that are stopping us from experiencing true happiness. Happiness that is not based on the outside world – because you know that will always fluctuate, we will never be able to control that. However we can learn to control what’s happening on the inside.
So next time you see another article promising you “instant happiness” or “5 easy steps to happiness” be aware! Because true happiness, that kind of happiness that nobody or nothing can take away, happiness that is radiating through you…well that kind of happiness takes work!
It takes a lot of work.
Lets face it, being happy in a world full of uncertainty, turmoil, loss that’s a challenge. However I promise you it’s well worth it. Please don’t shy away from the work. I invite you, yes YOU to experience this state of being HAPPY. It will take a certain amount of discipline, work and application (words that we often shy away from) but please don’t postpone it. If you truly want to thrive in this life, you will have to put the work into it someday. So why not now? Why not today?
This blog is Nikki and I’s inner journey of exploring this challenging yet beautiful path. Stay tuned and return here for inspiration, stories and experiences as we share what works (and what doesn’t).
I would like to close this post with one last message…
“Don’t postpone your happiness. Do it now.”
With love and gratitude