Happiness and How it Happens part 2
3rd May 2022
Happiness and How it Happens Part 2
Each week there will be a new chapter added here.
In order to understand how happiness happens, we first need to understand what happiness is.
The good news is that happiness is our natural state of being, our true nature – but most of us have lost touch with that, and in the process of pursuing what we believe to be happiness have somehow managed to make ourselves unhappy. Our aim, therefore, is to return to our natural state of happiness.
Paradise lost – and regained
When we are born, we live in a kind of paradise. Our desires are few and if met quickly by our loving mother we are content and happy. More significantly, we experience a state of blissful oneness with all life. Paradise is quickly lost, however, and regaining it becomes our life’s work.
As we grow up, we develop a sense of self as a distinct entity from all the other selves around us, and the paradise, the sense of oneness and connectedness with life – which we didn’t even know we had at the time – is lost.
What takes over is a firm and seemingly solid sense of me that needs to battle against the world to get what it wants and needs, this leads to a life of agitation and anxiety. Our needs and wants become more complex and are no longer just about having food, shelter and warmth. To varying degrees we start to define our sense of worth as a person by what we own, and by our level of success in the world. This sense of self that is developed, though quite a natural part of growing up, nevertheless leaves us feeling separate from other people, and the rest of life. It quite often leaves us in a state of ‘quiet desperation’.
Searching for paradise
Each of us is looking to regain this paradise, and each of us, barring maybe a few exceptions, knows that this, my life as it is, certainly is not paradise. Even if we have the good things in life – lots of money, a loving partner, good friends – we see that it’s not enough; we are still unfulfilled. We are still searching high and low for paradise in almost everything we do.
Of course we cannot go back to the state of blissful ignorance that we had as a baby. But our hearts still yearn for this state of connectedness. But our hearts still yearn for the happiness that the state of oneness and connectedness gave us. But we look in the wrong place. We search and search outside of ourselves trying to find this lost state of contentment and happiness.
How is paradise regained?
Paradise, or happiness – whatever you call it – is not found through acquiring more things, or more knowledge, or being important, or living a certain lifestyle. It is not found by getting the house you’ve been dreaming of, or getting the promotion you have been seeking. It is not found in a different place and a different time.
So how is happiness found? How is paradise regained? Here is the good news! We are already in paradise, we are already happy, but we just don’t see it. Why don’t we see it? Because we are programmed for seeking happiness where it doesn’t exist – in relationships, by getting approval, by being successful, by getting rich. I’m certainly not saying that we shouldn’t have these things, they can bring us much pleasure, but we must see that they are limited and will not give us the ultimate freedom we desire.
When we begin to see that paradise is not regained through acquiring more things, experiences, knowledge or living a certain lifestyle, being important we may turn our attention to more spiritual matters. We may even start to meditate and attend meditation retreats. Then we may think that paradise is to be found through meditation. Our attitude may be, ‘Once I’ve calmed myself enough, or once I’ve sorted myself out, nothing will bother me ever again.’
What happens is that our own personal (egoic) agenda for fixing the external world to be as we want it, which has never worked, gets shifted to the so-called spiritual world. Our attitude may be, ‘If I cannot be happy by fixing the world as I want it to be, then I’ll be happy by fixing myself, as I want to be.’ This is called spiritual materialism – we come into the spiritual life because we want something out of it for ourselves. We take up meditation because we want to change ourselves into a different type of person. This, of course, is perfectly fine and may be a necessary phase to begin with. After all, if we’re not going to get something out of meditation, then why bother doing it?
Tagged as: Anxiety, awareness, compassion, happiness, joy, meditation, mindfulness
Share this post: