“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.”–The Dalai Lama
There is no such thing as a fool-proof statement, tactic, or philosophy, because fools are so ingenious. Well, the term “fool” is too harsh, really, unless we grasp that we all play the fool at times. In the attempt to protect our egos (which believe that they are “us”) justify our misery, selfishness, or dishonesty, the human mind can twist something as simple as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (“what if you’re a masochist?” we ask. What if we are suicidal?) when, if a child were to ask us this, we would find our answers rapidly.
Simple doesn’t mean easy. In fact, simple is hard. Fitness is simple: work, learn, rest, grow. The discipline and focus to keep it up day after day, year after year, decade after decade, is another thing altogether. Same with relationships, with our careers, with managing our finances. Simple steps taken daily.
So a simple statement like “The meaning of life is happiness” will immediately be attacked by people who want to justify their misery, or to believe that there is no meaning. What if you just smoke dope or drink beer all day long. Doesn’t that provide happiness? Why work, strive, learn, grow? What is the point of digging through all the emotional garbage that was shoveled into our hearts in childhood, to supposedly find “happiness” or “contentment” as adults?
Ultimately, you have to find your own reasons. Mine are simple: I wish to experience all there is of life while I am here. To give all I can, because much was given to me. To relieve all the misery I can, because others reached out their hands to me.
I’ve never met a miserable person who was just “wired” that way naturally. In every case, digging in, they had conflicting beliefs (security versus freedom, for instance), negative beliefs (“you are worthless” “you are weak” “you cannot have your dreams”), painful experiences (rape, abuse, rejection, failure, etc.) without the necessary self-knowledge to reject the negativity.
Worse yet, their core belief is often that they, themselves, are ugly twisted things (reinforced by parents or lovers early in life) such that they believe that if they DID dig deep into themselves, they would find nothing but pain. So they remain on the “surface” of their existence. Take trivial pleasure in external accomplishment or intoxication or distraction. And never find out who and what they are. “This is just who I am” they say. Without the slightest idea who and what they really are. Terrified to look.
Any activity approached deeply enough will take you into wisdom. Wisdom into truth. Truth into joy. Writing, loving, and martial arts were my route. And because I never quit, no matter how hard it got, eventually I found the connection between them: authentic presentation of Self. Seeking to answer the Two Questions in every moment, with every breath: Who Am I? What Is True?
Again and again. Over and over. No matter how painful it got, because I had faith that at the core was beauty, and love, and the same divine substance that makes the stars.
Take your stand. Seek to excel in all the basic foundational aspects of life: body, mind, emotions. Add “finances” unless that aspect of your life is totally handled. Each of them will force you to give all you have. Seek to apply the lessons you learn across disciplines.
The “Secret Formula” says it best:
- Clear goals, written, with plans and deadlines for their accomplishment.
- Faith that you can and should accomplish them.
- Constant Action, taken daily, seeking to create one perfect day at a time, having ascertained that a string of such “perfect days” would create a perfect path to a perfect life.
And here it comes full circle. START your days with the positive emotions most people think can only come from external accomplishment. Dig deep into your heart, seeking the single star in the night sky. The single positive memory in all the pain you’ve held onto. If you can’t find it, imagine it–ALL human beings were loved and protected at some point in their infancy. If they were not, they die. Period. If you can’t find it, keep digging. Create your foundation there. Let that sense of love and appreciation propagate through the rest of your existence, just as some people let a single negative event color their entire lives. It works both ways.
The purpose of life is happiness. True joy is found in growth, and service, and Self knowledge. Simply decide that you are going to be happy, and feed yourself, every day, with the knowledge that brings you closer to your goal.
The life you save may be your own.