“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.”—Dalai Lama XIV
How can we cultivate this sense within ourselves? First start by admitting that we want to be happy, that we have the right to ask for this from life. Judging by the toxicity of social cultures in which misery is embraced, in which victim mentality is promoted and cultivated, it could be said that giving yourself permission to be happy, to seek happiness, is both honest and a contribution to those around you. You give THEM permission to seek happiness as well, leading to a progressive, healing spiral.
Fortunately, we have the ability to do this, because as we awaken, we find our emotions are NOT controlled by what is happening around us. It is determined by what we focus on, the language we use, and the way we use our bodies (breathing, posture, expression, etc.)
“New Years Resolutions” are a common practice in early January. But if you don’t keep those resolutions: if you stop monitoring your finances, stop meditating, fall off your diet, stop getting together with your friends, stop stretching or exercising…don’t blame the externals, and in this case your externals aren’t just your society or family, the externals can be your body, your perception of emotions, your thoughts.
Dive deeply enough and you will learn that you are not these things, not ANY of these things. And that just as your society, your family, your emotions, and your body sensations seem to control you, in reality, the more you associate with your true self, you will find that you control your experience of them.
If your primary goal is to experience as much joy as possible, (the Challenge, step #1 of the Hero’s Journey) then the next step is to ask what stops us from that happiness. Make a list, with AT LEAST three answers. Here are some possibilities:
- My parents taught me that unless they are happy with me, I cannot be happy: it is selfish
- Unless the entire world is happy, I cannot be happy.
- I had an unhappy childhood, therefore I cannot be happy
- I have difficulties and challenges: unless I am perfect, I cannot be happy.
- Only pain motivates human beings to improve. I wish to operate at a high standard, and therefore I must be unhappy.
- It is selfish to want happiness.
And on and on. One question that can set you free is: WOULD I GIVE THIS STANDARD TO MY OWN MOST BELOVED CHILD. Another is: IF I WAS ON MY DEATHBED, LOOKING BACK OVER MY LIFE, WOULD I CONSIDER THIS STANDARD SANE AND REASONABLE? DID IT BRING ME PLEASURE?
Dig deep. #6, selfishness, is a killer. But consider this: selfishness is not a problem. Defining “self” as our bodies or egos is a problem. Paradoxically, learning your true essence automatically connects us with the human beings around us. We ARE our families, neighbors, friends, community. It is fear that stops us from feeling and experiencing this. And happiness, gratitude, love…are antidotes for fear.
Take care of yourself, first. Admit that you want to be happy. Start here, and THEN go out into the world to achieve. The results are astounding. Try it for just thirty days, and you’ll never go back.