What is the mystery of genuine happiness?
When you seriously consider what is the most desirable state of being in life, all will point to happiness. We may think that primary survival needs, our instincts are on vanguard of our search for fulfillment, but soon enough we realize that they weren't.
After our needs for survival are met we experience a fleeting moment of satisfaction, but not a feeling of genuine happiness. What will generally happen is that we will be presented with a next object of our need, anything will appear to be "essential" to our well-being. The appetite for external things and experiences will continue to rise in tandem to our ability to acquire them. And with every moment of acquisition we may experience a temporary reprieve from internal pressure of the "need". Commonly this moment is referred to as happiness.
Not knowing who you are is a secret engine that drives an appetite for externally appearing objects promising to deliver the experience of genuine happiness. Not knowing who you are sets in motion the hierarchy of needs — a mindset of deficiency which impulsively attaches to anything that carries a potential to fulfill one or a combination of those needs, thus produce a surrogate answer to underlying quest for genuine happiness.
But after a short respite of numbness from desire knocked off by enjoyment, the system of need is back on line again in search for our next thing that flickers with a promise of happiness.
While searching for happiness outside ourselves we can't experience a state of fulfillment we are longing for. It will remain elusive for as long as it is determined by the state of mind of "not having". Not knowing who you are gives rise to perception that you need to compete with others who want to get the same thing you do. It gives rise to feelings of hostility toward others and feelings of inadequacy toward oneself. When this negative thinking gets more compounded, it gets expressed in anger, vengeance and possibly more negative actions.
If we believe that happiness needs to be taken in a fight of competition, then we see that outsmarting or outfighting the other is some feeling of happiness. When we get fulfillment at the cost of another, that sense of happiness is short-lived and can't be sustained in freedom. That will have to be defended, rationalized and continue to be re-inforced.
It produces a cycle of preoccupation with oneself ridden with doubt and constant paranoia: "Am I doing okay? Am I winning or is someone else doing better than I?" That is not a state of genuine happiness, no matter how well-protected it is: there's worry and strife, there's no peace — which is main ingredient of genuine happiness.
With closer examination we see that the source of happiness is not outside of ourselves. A state of genuine happiness arises from within. It doesn't mean that experience of happiness does not include enjoyment of nice things and events in life. A person who is developing awareness of authentic happiness enjoys nice experiences even more, but she is not relying on them for being happy.
What is the clearest way to a state of genuine happiness?To address three layers that obscure our experience or rob us of genuine happiness, let look at them with a remedy of awareness.
Three threads of genuine happiness:
- Knowing who you are.
Relating to yourself on a basis of perceived limited identity. Genuine happiness is impossible without transcending an illusion of limited identity. By investigating and knowing who you are, there is freedom delusion of consciousness — a limited perception o yourself as an object with a story that runs between a beginning and the end of a lifetime.
Adhering and supporting that particularly created view of oneself takes a lot of energy to maintain. There's no possibility for rest and stability in this setup as everything changes constantly, our bodies, our mental states and sensations and those of other people. Yet by attaching to the idea of permanence and definition of "I" the object, we pass the opportunity for unshakable foundation of genuine happiness — imperturbability resting in awareness of who you are.
- Independence from impulsive craving.
It doesn't imply a life of complete blandness and lack of unique experience. A desire for nice things that make our life more joyful and effective in service to ourselves and others is not the one that robs us from happiness. It is insatiable craving, unexamined impulse to need more than what is enough which keeps us in a state of agitation and inadequacy.
Deliberate desire based in reality of what is essential is not to be confused with impulsive craving, which is a mind's habit to be preoccupied. On the opposite side impulsive craving could be expressed through avoiding or resisting elements of experience that perceived as "not pleasant". Being caught in between these polarities, there is no ground for lasting genuine happiness.
To begin reducing power of impulsive craving, ask yourself what is the idea behind that makes something very desirable on one hand or repulsive on another. It worth reminding yourself that a meaning of things and events doesn't exist inherently independent from our perception of them. We have access to awareness that can free us from constant restlessness of impulsive craving and settle our minds in a state of fulfillment and genuine happiness.
- Freedom from negative thinking.
State of genuine happiness can't be experienced without facing directly our proclivity for negative thinking of self-centeredness and anger as its culminating emotion. When we assume that our position is the only one that matters, we provide conditions for unhappiness. We lose inner peace and harmony through exclusion of others, thus setting up a mindset of win/lose competition and strife. We might feel hurt if our mental position or opinion is not regarded as important or appropriate.
We might perceive that we are "wrong" and begin comparing and judging ourselves and resent others. Temporary there might be a sensation of powerful surge of energy to compete and to prove, but it is not a state of happiness. Hostility borne out of impulse to compete and compare eliminate any possibility for lasting happiness. The feelings even though seen as projected out, are experienced within.
To generate positive feelings within, it is very useful to relate to experience of others:
- Enjoy in their success.
As you contemplate how it feels to enjoy success by someone else, instead of feeling jealousy or envy toward that person, in your mind you actually have an experience these very feelings of success and fulfillment. Externally you help create environment of freedom for others to enjoy their good fortune more fully without fear of alienating others.
- Recognize their suffering.
When you see someone suffering, recognize that they are just like you want to be happy and don't want to suffer. Do not be afraid that an acknowledgment of someone's suffering will make you feel unhappy. When you recognize it you will feel compassion for them and maybe moved to help. In your mind you will be the first one who will get to experience feeling of your own compassion. Externally by doing so you provide encouragement for the suffering person that they are not alone and it may reduce the intensity of their state.
By practicing Loving-Kindness meditation, you actually freeing your mind from incessant obsession with your position in relation to others, a subtle form of negative thinking which is exhausting. An open heart of freedom is potent ingredient of genuine happiness.
- Don't ever refer of relate to yourself in derogatory way. Even when you regret your actions, take responsibility for them without self-judgment.
- Establish learning orientation to life, see your life as a path of personal growth, learning and continuous education. There are no mistakes, only opportunities for learning.
- Practice positive perception. At all possible times choose to see value and positive outlook throughout life situations with power of faith and strength of intention.
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